Barberton police are seeking leads into the New Year’s Eve shooting that left a brother and sister dead and their father and his girlfriend critically wounded.
Killed in the shooting was 18-year-old Barberton High senior Ashley Carpenter and her brother, David Kohler Carpenter, 14, a middle school student.
The teens’ father, John Kohler, 42, and his friend, Ronda Blankenship, 38, are being treated at local hospitals for gunshot wounds. Their condition was not available.
Barberton police say at least two shooters went to the house about 7 p.m. Tuesday evening and confronted the family inside the home in the 300 block of Seventh Street Northeast.
Detectives believe robbery was the motive behind the shooting, police spokesman Officer Marty Eberhart said Wednesday. He would not elaborate.
He conceded that investigators have few leads into the shooters’ identity. No descriptions of the shooters was available.
Eberhart could not say if anything was taken or what might have motivated the robbery. He also could not say if the shooters forced their way inside the residence.
“So far in the investigation, it appears that residence was targeted for robbery,” he said. “I can’t go any further into what they were intending to take.”
Officers responded to a 911 call at 6:50 p.m. Tuesday and found the four victims inside. It is not clear who called 911. A tape of the call was not immediately made public.
The teens were pronounced dead at the scene, Eberhart said. The adults were taken to area hospitals.
A spokesman with the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office said autopsies would be performed Thursday.
Ashley Carpenter played the clarinet in the Barberton High marching band. David attended the middle school. The children’s mother, Leiha Carpenter, lives in Barberton.
Family members declined comment Wednesday.
Patti Cleary, superintendent of Barberton schools, said Wednesday that counselors would be available to anyone in need.
“The Barberton Schools are devastated by the loss of two of our students and the serious injuries of their father and his friend,” she said in a statement. “The district will do everything we can to support the family and we will provide additional counseling services and collaborate with Victim’s Assistance to support any students who are affected by this tragedy. We are praying for the children, the family and the community.”
In the neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, residents said they didn’t hear anything unusual Tuesday night. They described the neighborhood as quiet and safe.
Yellow police tape still cordoned off the area around the shooting scene, though there was no apparent activity inside the Kohler residence on Wednesday. A Barberton police cruiser was idling on the street outside the residence.
Sheena Cate said she was best friends with the father who lived at the house.
“They were awesome kids,” she said.
Cates said the father’s condition “is not good. Not good at all.”
She said the Kohler and Carpenter families are struggling to comprehend the horrific act.
“Even [Kohler’s] mom has a thousand questions,” she said “We’d like to know what happened and we want the suspect to come forward. If you’re man enough to take two children’s lives, you should be man enough to come forward.”
Tim Terry and Michelle Olei, whose house is next to the corner house where the shooting happened, said they didn’t hear anything unusual until the police knocked on their door.
“I had my video game going. I didn’t hear anything,” said Terry. “I think it was something personal.”
Olei, who said she has lived in her house for many years, said the neighborhood is safe and she didn’t feel at risk, even with the shooting next door.
Terry, who has lived in the neighborhood for two years, said Kohler had lived there at least as long. He had seen the father mowing his lawn in the summer, but didn’t know him.
Brian Calvert, who lives across the street, said he also didn’t know the victims.
“Nothing like this happens. It’s a shock,” said Calvert.
A fund has been established to help the Carpenter family with funeral expenses. Donations may be made at: http://www.gofundme.com/5zvxbs.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Barberton detectives at 330-848-6709. Information may also be provided anonymously by calling Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS(2677) or by texting TIPSCO plus the tip to 274637.