The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the circumstances that led law enforcement to kill two brothers Saturday after a nine-hour nighttime standoff in Knox County.
Police say the men, identified as Randy Wilhelm, 56, and Bradley Wilhelm, 53, fired shots at law enforcement vehicles and planned to detonate a propane tank like a bomb rather than capturing the face.
Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call for gunfire on Gilchrist Road near the village of Howard in Monroe Township, about 50 miles northeast of Columbus, around 11:30 p.m. Friday.
Police say the incident began after a bail bondsman called law enforcement and reported his vehicle had been repeatedly shot by a suspect. The surety was trying to apprehend Randy Wilhelm, who failed to appear in Knox County Common Pleas Court on $100,000 bond, authorities said in a news release Sunday.
Wilhelm has been indicted since 2020 on charges including intimidation, stalking threat, bribery, criminal assault and domestic violence. On August 2, he failed to appear in court for his jury trial and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
During the ongoing investigation involving Randy Wilhelm, detectives had received several reports that he had a stockpile of firearms and ammunition, and that he had threatened not to be arrested and that he had the skills to defend himself. Wilhelm was a well-known trap shooter and skilled marksman, the statement said.
Deputies requested assistance from outside agencies while responding to the scene. Multiple agencies responded, including BCI and the State Highway Patrol. Several agencies provided armored vehicles for the effort. Three of the vehicles were hit by fire from the two suspects, authorities said.
During the standoff, authorities said a bulk propane truck was moved next to one of the homes on the property. They said Randy Wilhelm had previously threatened to use the propane tanker as a bomb if law enforcement tried to apprehend him.
On Saturday morning, the sheriff’s office sent out a statement asking area residents to shelter in place and lock their doors and windows as authorities tried to negotiate an end to the standoff.
Knox County clash: Suspects fired at helicopter, Ohio State Highway Patrol says
The patrol spokesman, Sgt. Brice Nihiser said the suspects fired at a patrol helicopter, but did not hit it. He added that the suspects may have fired several times during the clash, but said the investigation was still trying to determine how many shots they fired and where.
“Every time we get shot at, it definitely escalates things,” Nihiser said.
Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer said his office had prepared for a barricade situation on the fenced compound that includes three homes and several outbuildings.
“Deputies had pre-planned and conducted oversight with the goal of maximizing the likelihood of a safe and peaceful resolution,” Shaffer said. “However, based on their actions, the brothers unfortunately do not appear to have any intention of being arrested.”
At around 9.20am on Saturday, law enforcement officers shot and killed the two brothers as they drove in a side-by-side vehicle, commonly known as a utility or all-terrain vehicle, towards officers outside of an armored vehicle. .
“As law enforcement attempted to arrest the suspects, an officer-involved shootout occurred,” Sheriff’s Office Captain Jay Sheffer said at a Saturday news conference.
Authorities have not identified the officer or officers who fired the fatal shots. No law enforcement officer was injured.
Two other people on the property, the Wilhelms’ mother, who was in another house on the property, and a friend of Bradley Wilhelm’s, were not considered hostages during the incident and were not injured.
Dispatch Journalist Jordan Laird contributed to this report