December 22, 2014

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Man shoots self at dealership

WELLINGTON — An elderly man behind on his rental car payments shot and killed himself Friday in the parking lot of the Harrison Ford-Mercury dealership in Wellington.

The victim was identified as John Wright, 79, whose last known address was in Akron, according to county Coroner Paul Matus. He said Wright died from a single gunshot wound.

BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE 

Wellington officers take evidence from the trunk of the rental car that a man shot and killed himself in. 

Generally, The Chronicle-Telegram does not write about suicides unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as in the case of Wright’s death.

A dealership employee who wished to remain anonymous said the man began renting a car from the Harrison Ford-Mercury dealership in mid-July when the Ford Focus he purchased in 2006 from the dealership was repossessed.

He paid $100 cash to rent another 2006 Ford Focus from the dealership, and he was due to return the vehicle on July 26, but never did.

“We made an exception because he was a customer of ours for so long,” the employee said. “When we tried to get a hold of him, we learned that the address he gave us was to a Motel 6 in Akron.”

On Friday, however, a dealership mechanic saw him pull out of the Burger King across the street from the dealership. The mechanic informed his boss, who contacted Wellington police.

Wright was headed southbound on state Route 18 when he apparently noticed police were following him, and he turned around to head back to the dealership, the employee said.

He parked 20 yards away from the dealership’s service garage and was instructed to remain inside the vehicle by police. It was just after noon when he shot himself. Rodney Harrison, co-owner of the dealership, said he was unsure what the man’s intentions were but was glad no one else was hurt.

“Anytime somebody loses their life, it’s a tragic thing,” he said. “It’s just very bizarre and sad.”

Wellington police did not return calls seeking comment.

Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.