April 24, 2014

Elyria
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Attorney says suspected Oberlin shooter has been threatened

OBERLIN — The attorney for Sean Woodings, the man accused of shooting four men last Thursday night in Oberlin, asked an Oberlin Municipal Court judge to allow Woodings to relocate due to continued threats from at least one of the alleged victims.

Woodings’ attorney, Edward La Rue, said the threats, which were made via Facebook, have been ongoing since the shooting.

Woodings, who was released on a $5,000 personal bond Friday, sported a clean-shaven look and short hair during his court appearance Wednesday. He waived a preliminary hearing on the charges — four counts of felonious assault — and the case will be transferred to a county grand jury for consideration of felony charges.

Woodings is accused of opening fire on the men outside of his apartment on West College Street. Police said the men — Emilio Hernandez, 26, of Lorain; Anthony Lee, 22, of Elyria; Isiah Richardson, 17, of Oberlin and Quan Jackson, 23, of Oberlin — received relatively minor injuries, and they were treated and released from the hospital.

The circumstances leading to the shooting are unclear, and Oberlin police have not released a police report on the incident, but police said the shooting was a result of an “escalating dispute.”

That dispute centered around the grandmother of Jackson, Mary Butler, who visited police earlier that day to report that she had been threatened by Woodings.

Oberlin police Lt. Mike McCloskey said Butler came to the police station around 6:30 p.m. Thursday to report that a caller had threatened her about property that he believed was taken from him.

“She said a caller threatened to take it out on her if her grandson did not return the property,” he said.

McCloskey said Butler initially did not know who had made the call, but when Woodings was arrested for the shooting, he admitted to calling Butler.

Jackson, who was shot in the foot approximately five hours later, said in an interview after the hearing that he and his friends were across the street from Woodings’ apartment playing beer pong when Woodings threatened him from a parking lot nearby. He said he didn’t go over to Woodings’ apartment with the intention of confronting him, but he acknowledged that the two had been involved in disputes in the past.

“I’ve been to his apartment before,” he said. “My girlfriend is his wife’s friend. The more I think about it, it seems he is secretly in love with my girlfriend.”

Jackson’s girlfriend, Brelan Stevens, had been staying at Woodings’ apartment with Woodings and his wife. She said she was there when the shooting occurred.

“It was premeditated. There was no way around it,” she said after the court appearance was completed.

Stevens alleges that Woodings came into the apartment after the shooting and said, “You thought I was playing.”

La Rue said there has been a “fair amount of events” leading up to the shooting, but he would not elaborate. He did comment on the protection order, which he said Woodings and his wife were seeking against Jackson.

“He’s the one who has forced this incident,” he said, referencing Jackson.

La Rue said Woodings was returning from work, not taunting Jackson, when he was confronted by a menacing group of men — eight to 15 people — in front of his apartment. La Rue said Woodings felt that the lives of his wife and his children, all of whom were in the home, had been threatened.

“There’s nothing premeditated about defending one’s minor children and wife,” he said.

Jackson denied that the men, who were shot in the parking lot of the apartment complex, were carrying weapons, but La Rue said he’s waiting for information from police to determine if that was the case.

On Wednesday, an Oberlin Municipal Court judge ruled that Woodings was allowed to travel outside of Oberlin as there had been no restrictions placed on travel, and he is not on court-supervised release.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.