COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A man accused of opening fire on a SWAT team and critically wounding an Ohio police officer had been behaving erratically in the weeks leading up to a fire he allegedly set at his estranged wife’s house, his former employer and others testified at a bond hearing Tuesday.
A Franklin County Municipal Court judge ordered 44-year-old Columbus resident Lincoln Rutledge held without bond on charges of felonious assault and aggravated arson. The judge cited concerns about a risk to public safety if Rutledge was released from custody.
Columbus police say Rutledge shot SWAT Officer Steven M. Smith and held police at bay for several hours Sunday after officers tried to arrest him for the fire, which was set the day before.
Police Detective Anne Pennington told the judge Tuesday that Smith, who remained on life support Tuesday, was shot in the head and is “not expected to survive.”
The Franklin County Public Defender Office is representing Rutledge. County Public Defender Yeura Venters declined to comment Tuesday.
Rutledge’s former employer, Ohio State University, and others have commented on Rutledge’s behavior over recent months.
A statement from the university says Rutledge resigned April 3, 2016 as an information technology security engineer there while on a leave that he had requested Feb. 1.
“His I.T. and building access were revoked on March 23, 2016, when he began to behave erratically while on leave,” the statement says. Ohio State said it arranged for wellness checks on Rutledge and encouraged him to contact its employee assistance program.
WCMH-TV reports that university police documents dated March 22 and March 23 said a co-worker told police he saw weapons, including a gun and ammunition when he went to check on Rutledge and that Rutledge began to swing a hammer at him.
Rutledge’s estranged wife had told police that since mid-March, Rutledge had threatened her with gun violence and had been sought for a court-ordered mental-health evaluation, but no one could find him, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
A preliminary hearing for Rutledge has been set for April 21.