Kent co-worker saw woman shot by husband in company parking lot

By Julie Pavelich and Diane Smith Record-Courier s Published:

"He yelled, 'Open the door,' " recalled Elsie Perry, a seamstress at the Euclid Garment Manufacturing Co. in Kent. "He shot through the door and then yanked it open and shot two more times."

This morning, Mrs. Hambright's estranged husband, Ronald, 49, of Notman Road in Deerfield, is in the Portage County Jail facing a charge of attempted aggravated murder, an unclassified felony.

He was arrested at 8:15 a.m. after allegedly shooting Mrs. Hambright, 45, several times at 6:45 a.m. as she arrived for work at the Martinel Drive company in the Davey Industrial Park.

Hambright is being held in lieu of a $750,000 cash bond.

After the shooting, Hambright fled Kent, traveling south toward Interstate 76, stopping at a female friend's house in the 4400 block of S.R. 43. Hambright abandoned his vehicle and allegedly wielded a firearm while demanding the woman drive him to his sister's home in Springfield Township, according to Brimfield Police Chief Robert Burgess.

Out of fear for her safety and Hambright's unpredictable actions, the friend did so, Burgess said. The woman was unharmed and told a Brimfield police officer monitoring traffic on S.R. 43 what happened while on her way home, he said.

"There is some indication that he did that," Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said of the alleged abduction. "It's still under investigation, and it's something we're looking into."

Brimfield police are conferring with the prosecutor's office regarding the possibility of filing an abduction charge against Hambright, Burgess said.

Mrs. Hambright remained in serious condition at Akron City Hospital this morning. One of the shots is believed to have caused a spinal cord injury, Vigluicci said. It is not known whether the gunshot wounds will paralyze her.

Mrs. Hambright was described as a dedicated worker at the company, where she has been an inspector for about three years.

"She is a very quiet, private, excellent worker, a good friend to people, and a fine woman," said Tom Rosenblatt, the garment company's general manager. "We pray for her and pray that she can (return) to her job."

Immediately after the shooting, the staff went into action, Rosenblatt said.

Perry, a certified Red Cross emergency responder, started first aid and assigned other employees to keep the driveway clear for emergency vehicles. Another grabbed a cellular phone and called 911.

"Our employees performed beautifully throughout the day," Rosenblatt said.

Perry is chairman of the company's health and safety committee and learned many of the techniques used by emergency medical technicians.

"I never had anything like this," she said. "It really shook me up."

Perry pressed on the two wounds on Mrs. Hambright's arm to stop the bleeding, and another co-worker kept talking to her to keep her conscious.

Later, Perry said, she was told Mrs. Hambright had another wound to her chest, resulting in her more serious injuries.

Rosenblatt praised the way Perry and other employees handled the incident.

"I don't know if she saved her life, but she certainly helped a great deal and did what had to be done until the rescue squad got here," Rosenblatt said.

Kent police would not release how many times Mrs. Hambright was shot or how many bullets were fired. A .38 caliber pistol, believed to be the weapon used in the shooting, was recovered Tuesday in a bedroom of the Springfield home where Hambright was arrested, according to Lt. James Stein, of the Kent Police Department.

Many of the company's 110 employees met with employee assistance specialists from Coleman Professional Services and Townhall II Tuesday to talk about the incident and their co-worker.

Several of Hambright's co-workers, like Perry, were in the parking lot at the time of the incident as they were arriving for their 7:55 a.m. shift. A few of those who saw the incident left work early, Rosenblatt said.

After his arrest, Hambright was transported to St. Thomas Hospital for treatment of diabetes. After his first visit to the hospital, Kent police later returned him there for further treatment.

Hambright engaged in a three-hour standoff July 13 with deputies from the Portage County Sheriff's Office after threatening to kill himself when he was served with divorce papers, according to Portage County Sheriff Duane Kaley.

Hambright, who operates the Mason-Dixon Barber Shop in Alliance, was released from the Portage County Jail Aug. 15 on a $5,000 personal signature bond after spending nearly a month behind bars on four felonious assault charges stemming from the standoff.

He underwent a psychological analysis before being released from jail. He was found to be mentally competent, Vigluicci added.

The felony charges were dismissed last week after they could not be resolved during a pretrial hearing in Portage County Municipal Court in Ravenna. Hambright faces being indicted by a grand jury on the counts, Vigluicci said.

During the standoff, Hambright reportedly fired several shots, including one through the television, threatened to shoot someone and taunted officers to get them to come closer to the residence, Kaley said

Perry said even though Mrs. Hambright had worked at the plant for a few years, she didn't know her well enough to know much about her personal life.

"She's always been a quiet person," she said. "She stayed by herself a lot."

Rosenblatt also praised the Kent police and fire departments for their quick response and support throughout the day.

"I think 911 was called the second it happened, and they got here seconds later. The woman who called was still on the phone when she heard the sirens," he said. "We are pleased with how everyone is handling all of this, and everyone has been supportive and very helpful."

Hambright's next court appearance on the attempted aggravated murder

charge is set for Sept. 5 in Portage County Municipal Court in

Kent.

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