I do not work for this Department, However it borders our city limits, and we work with them alot. How SAD

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Whitehall policeman, gunman die in shootout
Another officer was wounded as the partners tried to deliver a warrant to the gunman's wife
Saturday, August 25, 2001
Tiffany Y. Latta and Dean Narciso
Dispatch Staff Reporters

Sean Busher / Dispatch

Brad Lewis, the Franklin County coroner, inspects a handgun near the body of Bela Mozer. Whitehall police said Mozer killed an officer and wounded another before he was killed yesterday.

Officer Terry L. McDowell

Officer Eric Brill

Two Whitehall police officers trying to serve a court summons last night were met with a shotgun blast through the front door.

The bizarre confrontation in a quiet, suburban neighborhood left Officer Terry L. McDowell and the gunman, Bela Mozer, dying in the yard at 142 Beechbank Rd.

Officer Eric Brill, who neighbors said was shot in the face by Mozer, was in stable condition at Grant Medical Center last night.

Mozer was dead at the scene and McDowell was pronounced dead shortly afterward at Grant.

About 6:45 p.m., McDowell, 35, and Brill, 31, went to serve a citation to Mozer's wife, Anna, 52, for driving without a license, said Lt. Richard Zitzke, Whitehall police spokesman.

As McDowell knocked on the Mozers' screen door, Mr. Mozer shot from the other side without opening it, police said. A man across the street who heard the shot ran to his window and heard a second blast.

The first shot hit McDowell; the second hit Brill in the face.

"The officer stumbled away from the house,'' the neighbor said about Brill. "He was all bloody in the head. In the yard, there was another officer laying there.''

Officer Bob Roule, a Whitehall police spokesman, said, "The guy shot Eric in the face before he could even get his gun out.''

Although seriously injured, Brill radioed for help. He then collapsed a couple of houses away on the opposite side of the street.

Mozer, who had walked from the house, stood over McDowell and continued to fire shots into his motionless body, Zitzke said.

The neighbor, who didn't want to be named, said Mozer then "walked back into the house, carrying the gun by his side all casual-like. . . . He was walking like nothing was going on.''

Mozer then went to the back yard, where he sat in a lawn chair with his gun.

Police "surrounded the house and the house next to it,'' the neighbor said, "and then someone yelled that he was in the back yard.

"They told him to drop the gun and get down and to drop the gun and get down . . . They told him at least three times, but evidently he didn't.

"He fired one shot at them. I know he fired it because it was the same-sounding shot that shot the officers in the front.''

Officers also fired at him, though Zitzke said it appears Mozer, 54, killed himself.

It's also unclear where Mrs. Mozer was or what provoked the violence.

"This was a routine traffic citation,'' Zitzke said. "Things often happen when you least expect it.''

Zitzke said the officers were wearing bulletproof vests.

Authorities with Whitehall police said McDowell is the suburb's first officer to die in the line of duty.

Mayor John A. Wolfe spoke last night about the loss.

"The officer the community lost -- they lost one of their best representatives in the community,'' Wolfe said. "It's a tragic situation, and it's a needless situation for such a minor infraction.''

Wolfe said McDowell was instrumental in the police honor guard and "very active in the community. Terry got along well with everybody.''

Zitzke said he was unsure late last night how long either officer had been with Whitehall. Brill had been there fewer than five years, he said, and McDowell more than that.

McDowell had been married for nine years to Angela Keefe McDowell and the couple had two sons, 8 years and 11 months old.

Teresa Hurley, a neighbor of the McDowells', said she last saw Officer McDowell as he left his Madison Township home for work yesterday afternoon.

"To think that was the last time I saw him was just a shock,'' Hurley said. "He was a good neighbor to us. He was so nice.''

Officer Bill Capretta, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, was at Grant Medical Center with the officers' families last night.

"It's tragic. It just takes your breath away,'' Capretta said outside the hospital.

Capretta spoke with tears in his eyes and said he would have preferred to not talk about the incident so soon, "but the city of Columbus needs to know there will be another funeral for a police officer.''

The Whitehall neighborhood where the shootings occurred -- consisting mostly of duplexes -- was left reeling last night.

One neighbor said of Mozer: "He was very strange.'' The neighbor said the Mozers had moved in about six years ago.

The couple had previous brushes with the law. Mrs. Mozer was charged with two counts of resisting arrest in 1997, according to Franklin County Municipal Court records.

Last year, her husband was charged with domestic violence, assault, interfering with a criminal investigation and speeding.

A neighbor said it appeared Mr. Mozer didn't have a job. "He drove an ice-cream truck a couple of years ago.''

Another neighbor liked the Mozers.

"He was a very nice man,'' said a man who lives next door but didn't want his name used. "He came to my house to bring me food, talked to my kids. It's hard to believe this happened.''

The shootings occurred in the other half of a duplex in which Joseph E. Buker, 52, was found dead in February. The Kroger employee was killed by a gunshot. The case hasn't been solved.

"It's really bizarre,'' said one neighbor who didn't want to be identified. "We're wondering if these things are related.''