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HOA tells father of murdered Kirkersville police chief to remove police flag from yard

Tom Disario’s HOA calls the flag “a political statement,” which is not allowed.

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — How do you measure a day?

How do you measure 1,833 days? Tom Disario measures each day as one more day without him. It’s one more day removed from that day: May 12, 2017. Disario had just left Bible study when the news came across the radio.

“I knew when I heard ‘shots fired’ on the radio,” Disario said.

He knew his son, Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric Disario was gone.

He rushed to the hospital where, eventually, he was able to say goodbye.

“The point I seen him,” Disario’s voice trailed off. “Seen what that murderer did to him I just broke down.”

Credit: Tom Disario
Steven Eric Disario and father Tom Disario

Chief Disario, along with nursing home workers Marlina Medrano and Cindy Krantz were killed after police say Thomas Hartless opened fire. Hartless and Medrano had been dating, according to police.

Every day since, Tom Disario has measured days by memories and by a 3X5 police flag that has flown on the flag pole in his front yard.

“To me, that represents my son,” he said of the flag.

For five years and one week, the flag has caught the midwestern breeze flowing through Etna Township.

Then, just this week, he received a notice.

“They have told me in this letter that it’s propaganda,” Disario said.

Disario received a letter from OMNI Community Association Managers on behalf of Disario’s neighborhood HOA telling him to remove the flag calling it “a political statement.”

Disario says he backs police because of his son but says this flag is the furthest thing from politics.

“Do you view that flag as political,” 10TV’s Bryant Somerville asked.

“No,” he said. “Under no way, shape or form. The life of my son. Something that I can get up in the morning and look at and remember my son.”

An OMNI spokesperson told Somerville on Thursday, that it was agreed upon by Disario when he signed his deed to not display signs that are political in nature. The spokesperson also says it’s only an enforcer and sent Disario the letter after the HOA received a recent complaint.

OMNI also called 10TV's pursuit of this story sensationalism, saying it could have all been avoided if Disario had honored his agreement.

“I would love to see police flags all over the place because I don’t think they can win,” Disario said.

Disario says he’ll get three notices. After that he could be fined. If he’s still not in compliance the matter could go to court.

The OMNI spokesperson said, in most cases, fines are dropped once a homeowner becomes compliant.

“I’ve already told the HOA if you try to come in my yard and take it down you better bring the sheriff with you because you’re not taking it down,” Disario said.

Even one day without his child, he says, is immeasurable. Five years and one week: unimaginable.

The flag makes it a little more bearable. And that’s why, he says, it will continue to fly.

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