Police Officer Justin Winebrenner
Akron Police Department, Ohio
End of Watch: Sunday, November 16, 2014
Tour of Duty: 9 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: November 16, 2014
Weapon Used: Handgun
Suspect Info: In custody
Agency Contact Information
Chief James Nice
Akron Police Department
217 S. High Street
Akron, OH 44308
Phone: (330) 375-2244
Police Officer Justin Winebrenner was shot and killed while confronting an armed subject while off duty at approximately 2:00 am.
He and several friends were at a pub in the 1800 block of East Market Street when another patron became disorderly and was ejected from the business. The man returned a short time later and brandished a handgun at the staff and other customers. Staff member, who knew Officer Winebrenner was a police officer, alerted him to the situation. He and another off duty officer confronted the man, who then opened fire.
Officer Winebrenner was struck once in the chest and suffered a fatal wound while the other officer suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound. Three citizens were also shot and wounded.
The subject, a convicted felon, fled the scene on foot. He was located and taken into custody by a canine unit approximately one mile away.
Officer Winebrenner had served with the Akron Police Department for seven years and had previously served with the Medina County Juvenile Detention Center for two years. He is survived by his 4-year-old daughter and fiancee.
AKRON, Ohio — The first time Kenan Ivery walked into Papa Don’s Pub late Saturday night, police said he was unruly. When he came in a second time, he pulled out a gun and eventually shot five people, killing one off-duty Akron police officer, wounding another, and seriously injuring three customers, police said.
Justin Winebrenner, 32, died after he was shot in the torso trying to escort Ivery from the bar about 2 a.m. Sunday, Akron police Chief James Nice said at an afternoon press conference.
Winebrenner went to a fundraiser earlier that evening. He made a brief pit stop before going to Papa Don’s Pub, Nice said.
Ivery, 35, also went to the fundraiser, but Nice said investigators do not believe Ivery followed Winebrenner to the bar. Nice declined to provide details about the fundraiser or elaborate on the extent to which the men knew one another.
Toward the end of the night, Nice said Ivery, 35, came into the Papa Don’s and was being unruly. The bar’s management asked Ivery to leave, and he did. But he returned a short time later and drew a gun.
Frightened, the bar’s customers looked to Winebrenner — who was engaged to an employee there and therefore a familiar face — for help.
Winebrenner approached Ivery to "deal with him as a law enforcement officer," Nice said without going into more detail. Ivery opened fire, hitting Winebrenner, the second off-duty Akron officer, and three customers.
Nice said investigators do not yet know how many shots Ivery fired, or if Winebrenner returned fire at any point.
Nice declined to release the names of the others injured, including the second officer. The three customers injured suffered potentially life-threatening injuries, and the second officer sustained very minor injuries.
Ivery fled the bar on foot, and Akron police officers launched a manhunt for the 35 year old. K-9 officers sniffed him out a short time later lying down in an empty field by a rail yard less than a mile from the bar, Capt. Daniel Zampelli said.
Detectives also recovered what they believe was the gun Ivery used in the shooting, police said.
Winebrenner, a Wadsworth native, came from a family of law enforcement. His father, Robert, is a retired Barberton police officer.
Winebrenner was hired onto the force in 2007. He was assigned to the patrol division’s fourth platoon on the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, Nice said.
"He was a big, strong kid," Nice said. "He was good-natured. He was a well-liked officer."
Winebrenner pulled a man from a burning car in 2011, and has received a department award for a drunken driving arrest, Nice said.
Jessi Ison, who was outside the bar Sunday evening signing a poster board full of good-bye wishes, said she’s known Winebrenner since he was six years old.
"He was an ugly little kid with big buck teeth," Ison said laughing. "Now he grew up into this handsome, strong police officer."
Ison said Winebrenner and his fiancee, whose family owns the restaurant, were planning their wedding together before the shooting. Winebrenner also leaves 4-year-old daughter, who is shown beaming at his side in several Facebook posts.
"He was a great guy who loved his daughter to death," Ison said. "You would never expect something like this to happen to him."
Winebrenner is the first active-duty Akron police officer killed since 1994, when a drunk driver ran a red light and struck a patrol car, killing officer George Knaff.
Ivery, of Akron, is charged with aggravated murder and five counts of felonious assault with a weapon. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning in Akron Municipal Court.
These are the latest in an adulthood full of charges, including drug and weapons charges ranging from 1997 to May of this year. Nice said this incident underscores criticism he’s long lobbed at Ohio lawmakers over the state’s law barring convicted felons from owning a gun.
He said he’s "disappointed" that Ohio law doesn’t consider breaking the law a "violent" crime, which would make punishment more harsh for offenders.
"The typical person in Summit County arrested for having an illegal firearm does not do a day in jail," Nice said. "As chiefs, all we can do is keep arresting people."