COLUMBUS, Ohio — A 9-year-old central Ohio boy, who police say was the first targeted in a string of shootings by his mother’s ex-boyfriend, has died from his injuries, a hospital official said Sunday.
Jaiden Dixon succumbed to his injuries at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, according to a nursing supervisor who declined to provide further details.
The boy had suffered severe brain injuries and his organs were being donated, according to Mark Granger, the lawyer that Jaiden’s mother works for as a paralegal and who spoke on behalf of the family Saturday.
Jaiden was the first victim in a series of violent encounters Friday that ended in the death of his mother’s ex, 47-year-old Danny Thornton.
Thornton shot Jaiden around 7:30 a.m. Friday when the boy answered the door at a residence in Grove City, a suburb on the city’s southwest side, according to Grove City police Capt. Jeffrey Pearson. About a half-hour later, police said Thornton shot an ex-girlfriend, 42-year-old Vicki Vertin, at a dental office in Groveport, a suburb on the city’s southeast side.
Police said Thornton entered the office and said, “Haven’t seen you in a while” before shooting Vertin, a dental employee.
Thornton was tracked to a retail parking lot about two hours later and shot to death by police when he emerged from his car holding a gun, authorities said.
Vertin was hospitalized in critical condition Friday and an update on her condition was not available Sunday. A police officer was also wounded.
Police said they recovered a handgun, which has been turned over to investigators to determine if Thornton fired at the officer. They were still trying to learn what set him on his deadly path.
In a 911 call, a police dispatcher warned that Thornton had threatened “suicide by cop.” The dispatcher said Thornton had “claimed that he will not go down without a fight with police.”
Jaiden’s aunt, Shannon Magana, told The Columbus Dispatch that the boy loved playing basketball and baseball and was just “your average 9-year-old boy.”
“He smiled from ear to ear,” she said. “He would always just give you a hug and a smile, and that was J.”
She said she knows Jaiden would have liked knowing that his organs would help save other lives. “He wouldn’t have had it any other way,” she said.
Funeral arrangements had not been finalized by Sunday, but friends and family have set up a website to collect donations to help pay for the services.
The site, which said nearly $13,000 had been collected as of Sunday afternoon, said that Jaiden was getting ready for school Friday when he answered the doorbell and was shot.
“Jaiden was a sweet, compassionate boy who always had a smile and huge for everyone (especially animals) who met him,” it reads. “His mom, dad, siblings and other family members and friends are devastated to lose their precious angel.”