Tuesday, October 24, 2017 Elyria 47°

Cops and Courts

Lorain man charged after shooting at bonfire


LORAIN - A man bleeding on the ground from a gunshot wound, a missing suspect and differing accounts of what happened were all that remained from an early morning gathering between friends on Saturday.

A few hours after the incident, Michael Esper, 28, of Lorain, turned himself into police and was charged with felonious assault.

Around 3 a.m. Saturday, police responded to the home of Lorain man Dean Wright on the 1100 block of West 19th Street after receiving a call that a man had been shot at a bonfire.

At the scene, police found two women - Abby Romero and Christina Gordon - standing over Wright, 40, who was lying on the ground and bleeding heavily from a gunshot wound to the upper left part of his chest, according to the report.

Wright was breathing but not responsive when police arrived so officers turned to the women at the scene, first questioning Romero who initially didn’t cooperate with police, according to the report. After more questioning, Romero spoke with officers and said that she arrived at the house around 8 p.m., joining Gordon, Wright and Esper at the bonfire. An argument broke out at the gathering later in the evening and Romero saw Esper stand up, walk over to Wright and shoot him in the chest before running from the scene, according to a police report.

Wright, who regained consciousness shortly before he was taken to the hospital, corroborated Romero’s story, telling police that Esper shot him in the chest, police said.

Wright was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where he was in fair condition Monday.

Esper’s girlfriend, Gordon, was also at the scene during the shooting and gave police a different accounting.

Gordon said she and Esper had been invited to the party for drinks, games and a bonfire, according to the report. At the gathering that evening, she and Esper had gotten into an argument because Esper had asked to see Romero’s breasts. Gordon told police she went into the house because of the argument while Esper left the party entirely. During further questioning, Gordon said that she saw two Hispanic men and one black man come into the backyard just before the shooting and she saw them running from the scene just after the gunshots.

Though Esper was missing from the scene when officers arrived, he showed up at the Lorain Police Department only a few hours later at 11:30 a.m. with his attorney and the .45-caliber handgun used in the shooting, according to the report.

He was charged with felonious assault and taken to Lorain City Jail where he remained without bond on Monday.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.

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