June 27, 2016

Mostly sunny

Guilford man pleads not guilty to shooting at deputies

MEDINA — A Guilford Township man accused of shooting at Medina County Sheriff’s deputies last month pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony vandalism and inducing panic charges in Medina County Common Pleas Court.

Prosecutors say more charges could be coming for Dennis Heavilin, 62, of 8979 River Styx Road.



Heavilin was indicted by a grand jury last week on two charges of vandalism, both fifth-degree felonies, and a charge of inducing panic. All three counts carry a firearm specification, which means he would be sentenced to an additional three years in prison if convicted.

He is currently being held at the Medina County Jail on a $1 million bond.

His lawyer, Russell Buzzelli, asked the court Thursday for a competency evaluation. He said after court that he wanted to ensure Heavilin would be able to assist in his defense.

“We of course will put on a vigorous defense … Everyone is safe. That is the most important thing,” Buzzelli said.

Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said the vandalism charges pertain to damage to the deputies’ vehicles. He explained the panic charges relate to the fact that many law enforcement officers, including the county’s SWAT team, were called out for the March 22 incident. Nearby roads were blocked off and neighbors were told to stay in their basements.

Holman said more counts are pending. “We took the case to the grand jury just to get charges started. It was always with the view in mind to get” additional charges, he said.

He said now that prosecutors have “further reflected on the evidence,” they plan to present the case to a grand jury again next week.

Two sheriff’s deputies responded to Heavilin’s home in separate cars on March 22 after mental health nonprofit Alternative Paths reported he was threatening suicide just before 5:30 p.m.

“When they pulled in, they got out of their cars and he opened fire,” Sheriff Neil Hassinger said last month. Heavilin hit one deputy’s cruiser and the other’s sport utility vehicle.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that about 11 shots came from an upstairs window facing the street. They hit the cruiser at least seven times, including in the windshield, hood and passenger-side window. One of the bullets lodged in the driver’s seat at chest level.

Hassinger said deputies did not fire back and quickly called for backup before securing the area.

He said negotiators arrived, along with the Medina County SWAT team, and talked to Heavilin through the window before he surrendered at 7:01 p.m.

“Through everybody’s efforts, he came out on his own,” Hassinger said.

He originally was held on a charge of felonious assault. However, a grand jury has yet to confirm that charge.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.