WAUSEON — As he was flown to a hospital with two gunshot wounds, Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Simon said he prayed that his fellow officers would not find Jeshua Gilmore, the 18-year-old who he said “didn't care if he killed me that night or not.”
“I knew somebody else would have to make a choice that night either by taking your life or you taking theirs,” the deputy said to Gilmore in Fulton County Common Pleas Court. “I don't hate you, dude. I've let go, but what I am asking the court is to give you a reasonable amount of time so you can sit and think about the choices you've made.”
Gilmore, who was not apprehended until the next day in Toledo, was sentenced Thursday to 26 years and nine months in prison by Judge Jeffrey Robinson in a courtroom filled with sheriff's deputies and police officers from all over northwest Ohio.
“Mr. Gilmore, you are lucky you're not here on a death case,” Judge Robinson said before pounding his gavel and leaving the courtroom.
Gilmore, of the 2600 block of Locust Street, pleaded guilty Nov. 6 to attempted aggravated murder and a firearm specification for the July 31 shooting of Deputy Simon. He admitted shooting the deputy twice after leading authorities on a short pursuit from the Country Corral truck stop on State Rt. 109 near Delta.
Gilmore also pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, having a weapon while under disability, and grand theft of a motor vehicle for the events that night and to four counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and one count each of theft and grand theft of a firearm for an unrelated case.
Defense attorney Joseph Westmeyer III said the theft charges likely resulted from Gilmore's drug use, but he could offer little explanation for why the young man fired a gun at the deputy.
“Fear, poor judgment, irrational decision, youth can all be excuses, but they cannot explain what he did,” Mr. Westmeyer said. “He does take full responsibility for his actions.”
Gilmore apologized to Deputy Simon, saying he was thankful the deputy was alive.
“If I could, I would go back and change all the poor decisions I made, but I can't,” Gilmore said.
Paul Kennedy, an assistant county prosecutor, asked the court to impose consecutive sentences for each of the offenses Gilmore committed. He faced a maximum of 31½ years in prison.
“The state believes that this defendant has no regard for the sanctity of life,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Gilmore, he said, had no reason to shoot Deputy Simon. Gilmore had arrest warrants pending in Lucas and Fulton counties for theft-related offenses but nothing as serious as what he would bring upon himself that night.
Two officers had responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle at the Country Corral that night. When the officers approached the vehicle, Gilmore peeled out and a chase began. It ended soon after when the stolen car Gilmore was in began smoking.
As the car rolled to a stop, Mr. Kennedy said Gilmore stepped out with a backpack in his left hand concealing a gun in his right. He shot Deputy Simon twice before fleeing on foot and then stealing another car.
Mr. Kennedy said Deputy Simon is one of six children, three of whom are law enforcement officers.
“They always lived every day silently praying for their safe return as officers, always worrying about getting a call in the middle of the night as they did in this case,” he said. “When they did get that call they were terrified, concerned, numb with uncertainty about what happened to Officer Simon. That was even overshadowed when they knew that Mr. Gilmore had fled, and they didn't know where he was and whether he was still a threat to others.”
Deputy Simon said afterward he was off work for about a month after being shot and that he is now back on the road with his canine companion. When Gilmore got out of his car that night, Deputy Simon said he saw Gilmore's hands, re-holstered his gun, then looked down at his dog to give her a command.
“I looked back up and he had produced a gun,” the deputy said. “That was something that — I'll never take my eyes off of a suspect again. I don't know if I'll ever re-holster again. So I learned some things from this.”
A woman who was with Gilmore the night of the chase and shooting, Skye Thibodeaux, 19, of Lyons, previously pleaded guilty to obstructing official business and failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer. She is to be sentenced Jan. 16.
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