Suspect Killed After Shooting 9-Year-Old, Ex-Girlfriend & Officer


A search for a man suspected in two shootings ended in gunfire at a Walmart parking lot on Friday.

The suspect was shot and killed, but not before a Columbus SWAT officer was injured, along with two previous victims.

Grove City Police say they received a 911 call just after 7:30 a.m. when 9-year-old Jaiden Dixon was shot in the face after he answered a knock at the front door.

"The oldest brother comes running out of the house, screaming and crying at the top of his lungs for help, asking if I had a phone to call 911," said neighbor Brad Allmon. "As I'm calling 911, he finally said, 'He just shot my brother in the face. He shot my brother in the face.'"

The man who allegedly pulled the trigger was 47-year-old Danny Thornton. Investigators say Thornton was an ex-boyfriend of Jaiden's mother.

According to police, Thornton then headed to a dentist's office on the 4000 block of South Hamilton Road.

At that location, around 8 a.m., Thornton is accused of shooting another ex-girlfriend in the face as she was sitting in a chair.

Grove City and Columbus police started tracking Thornton and put out a bulletin for his vehicle.

Around 9:45 a.m., he was tracked to a location near Morse and Stelzer Roads at a Walmart across from Easton Town Center.

As police moved in, they say Thorton raised a gun at them.

"Once they moved in, the suspect exited his car, with a handgun in his hand; raised it towards the officers and that's when the shots were fired," said Sgt. Rich Weiner, CPD. "We don't have to wait for the suspect to fire. If he raises that weapon in a threatening manner, the officers can go ahead and use deadly force."

Thornton was killed in the exchange.

A SWAT officer was hit by shrapnel in the abdomen and hip area during the gunfire.

Police said Officer Steve Smith was the man injured. Officials say the 24 year veteran of the force is being kept for observation and is in good spirits. Two other SWAT officers were also involved in the shooting but not injured.

Jaiden Dixon is in critical condition at Nationwide Children's Hospital. His mother and brother were at the home but not injured in the shooting. His mother has posted on Facebook that the family that Jaiden is being kept on life support to donate his organs.

Jaiden’s brother, 17-year-old Jarid Fitzpatrick, heard the shot.

"I can't believe. What kind of person shoots a nine-year-old boy in the face? What kind of person can live?” said Jarid.

Fitzpatrick says he and Jaiden were getting ready to leave for school when Thornton shot his brother. He says he can't believe something so horrible would happen to someone so good.

"The nicest, cutest, he's an angel pretty much. He didn't deserve this. He's never done anything to nobody. He's one of the happiest kids. He wanted everybody to love him,” said Jarid.

The woman who was shot at the dentist office is in critical condition at Grant Medical Center.

Thornton is a former boxer who has had run-ins with the law in the past.

10 Investigates searched through his criminal records.

Thornton had been frequently accused of causing physical harm to others. Those charges include a 1994 disorderly conduct conviction. It started as a domestic violence complaint because he punched a woman in the jaw.

Then 1996, he was charged with assault for allegedly striking a Minerva Park Police officer. That charge was later dismissed.

Online documents suggest Thornton had a record for numerous other crimes that were expunged.  

Thornton made headlines in February 2000 when he claimed police mistreated him, inappropriately locking him in the back of a cruiser. Because of that, he got a settlement from the city in the amount of $10,000.

Several schools in the Grove City area were locked down during the morning while police were still looking for Thornton.

VIDEO:  Thornton's Background

VIDEO: Police News Conference

VIDEO: Neighbor Reacts

VIDEO: Police Chief Talks