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The story - 2005-02-19 19:58:40
By staff writers Tom Grose and Owen Eshenroder, with reports from Marilyn Riley, Brenda English, Joe Szczesny and Harry Orscheln.
[photo: body (Billy Hardesty) under sheet on gurney]

[photo: blurry figure (Hardesty) on gurney being loaded into ambulance]

A wounded gunman surrendered to police this morning after killing four persons, including his mother, in a seven-hour shooting spree.

William E. Hardesty barricaded himself in his home and exchanged gunfire with police for nearly an hour before surrendering. The dead, and two other persons injured by gunfire, were shot at three locations, including the suspect’s house.

Dead are:
Danny Wood, 30, 50160 Geddes, Canton Township,
Jan Hardesty of 49630 Martz, Van Buren Township,
Two unidentified men.

Wounded are: Hardesty, 21, 49630 Martz,
Tommie Lee Brown, 29, Tecumseh,
Bobby Joe Baker, about 22, Tecumseh.

Hardesty is in St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound to his upper leg.

Dozens of officers from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, State, and Ypsilanti police besieged the Hardesty home around 8 a.m. after one of the wounded victims identified him as the gunman. Gas launchers and a State Police SWAT team were also called in.

Three of the four dead were found over seven hours in the city and a small factory in Ypsilanti Township. His mother was found in a bed in the Hardesty home. Police do not know when she was shot.

Two of the dead were males discovered in the parking lot of Abigail’s Dirty Shame Saloon, 327 E. Michigan, around 2 a.m. by bar patrons, police said. They have not yet been publicly identified.

The second phase of the shooting spree occurred at Stiles-Wood Corp. and Associated Boring Co., 1585 Beverly.

Elmer Wood, a partner in the tool and die business, came to work about 6:30 a.m. to find his 30-year-old son Danny Wood, also a partner in the business, shot dead at his machine.

Brown, also an employee, and his half-brother Baker, had both suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Both reportedly were conscious but helpless.

The two victims were taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for treatment. Brown reportedly received a serious wound in the spine and may be permanently paralyzed. Baker was at the plant visiting Brown when the shooting occurred. Both are in critical condition.

David Stiles, chairman of the board of the company, said this morning he last saw Hardesty about a year ago. “He scared me half to death,” said Stiles. “He’s as nutty as a fruitcake. He should have been locked up long ago.”

C. W. Townsend of 1619 Beverly, said around 3 a.m. his dogs began “barking like crazy.” Thinking someone may have been prowling around his house, Townsend said, he grabbed a rifle and went outside, but found nothing.

Police would not say what connection there was between the Ypsilanti bar deaths and the ones in the township, except that they believe the same person responsible. One source at the scene on Beverly said the deaths may have been drug related.

Police on the scene at Stiles-Wood raced away when they heard Hardesty was at his home.

David Koetsier said he sneaked up to the front door and shouted at the suspect to surrender. He said he then heard a gun being loaded above the music playing inside.

Hardesty yelled that he was armed and Koetsier retreated to a tree in the corner of the front yard for protection.

The trooper said Hardesty came out onto the porch and pointed a .22-caliber rifle at him. He fired several shots at Koetsier, who then fired a blast from his shotgun, wounding Hardesty in the leg and stomach.

According to Koetsier, the suspect went back into the house and began firing at police with a more powerful rifle. At one point, Koetsier said, Hardesty fired a shot at Koetsier through the large picture window in the front of the house.

Around 8:30 a.m. police finally made telephone contact with Hardesty in his home. A Sheriff’s department radio monitored by reporters followed reports of the conversation between Hardesty and police.

Hardesty reportedly told police he was shot in the leg and stomach and was willing to surrender.

The sheriff’s command dispatcher warned all units to hold their fire and positions as they thought Hardesty may have been bluffing.

The front door finally opened a few minutes later but Hardesty, according to the radio, remained out of sight. Police told him to hold his empty hands in front him before coming out.

Hardesty, the radio said, then said he was on his way out, but a minute later he was back on the phone, apparently telling police he was too wounded to make it. The dispatcher told units next it sounded as if he was dragging himself across the floor, trying to yell out to police.

At about 9 a.m., Hardesty crawled out the front door and crumpled to the ground.

The trooper estimated that Hardesty fired about 15 shots before he surrendered and crawled from the home.

Washtenaw County Sheriff Thomas Minick said the siege at the house lasted for approximately 2 and 1/2 hours. Once inside the home, officers found Hardesty’s mother, dead from gunshot wounds.

Minick said Hardesty is suspected of slaying his mother. Late this morning, police were still attempting to locate Ronald Hardesty, the suspect’s father. The Hardesty family’s next-door neighbors, Fred and Gertrude Fensch, claimed Billy Hardesty had been in trouble with police for years.

”He was a terrible kid,” said Mrs. Fensch. “He had no respect for his parents. He’s been in everything under the sun.”

Stiles said Hardesty was recently divorced from Paula Wood, the daughter of Elmer and sister of Danny. Hardesty and his former wife have a young daughter.

Minick did say police knew of Hardesty from past experience and he does have a police record.
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Anna - 2005-02-19 20:01:50
I couldn't find anything online -- so thanks for posting this!
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Laura - 2005-02-19 20:03:30
One wonders what went down at the Dirty Shame to provoke this spree. I wonder if someone taunted him about the divorce, since Hardesty zeroed in on his ex-wife's brother Danny Wood at the tool and die shop, though not till hours later. Tragic.
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Eric * - 2005-02-19 20:11:38
Don't tell everyone about the printing thing. The library staff doesn't know that it's not hooked up to the card reader. You're going to ruin free printing for everyone.
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Laura - 2005-02-19 20:15:35
Yes, I'm a history geek. I admit it. It is indeed geeky to get a charge out of--woohoo, printing out facsimiles of old papers for free, wowie. Oh well. It is pretty cool. You have to admit that much, Eric *.
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Laura - 2005-02-19 20:20:01
Anyways, I'm sure the staff knows it's not hooked up. Anyone with half an eye can see that. And I didn't take advantage of that to print out every last page of every paper--I just decorously printed out what I needed.

I hope they don't hook it up. It was nice to not have to fumble around with money cards and then the money card machine won't work and all that. Printing out for free was a small spot of brightness in my day. At any rate.
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Laura - 2005-02-19 20:23:19
Anna: you're most welcome. Besides, this typing is keeping my fingers limber in my Polar house, to which the furnace guy comes on Monday. At any rate, six more stories on deck. Coming right up.
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Anna - 2005-02-20 09:33:27
Doesn't "Abigail’s Dirty Shame Saloon" sound just like a place where people would be shot in the parking lot?
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Laura - 2005-02-20 09:48:58
I has a similar thought. I wonder why anyone would name their place of business thus. Seems like an invitation to troublesome elements.

Of course, now I have to wonder what I'm name my bar if I ran one. Not the "Dirty Shame" or the "Idle Hour," surely. Something inviting and upbeat. "Laura's Geniality Spot." Or "The Fireside." Or something.
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Anna - 2005-02-21 09:40:00
Funny --- I've gathered from these discussions that there's a bar in Ypsi called "Idle Hour" that attracts a rather rough crowd? I have a totally different image of "Idle Hour" -- there is a house on Packard Street in AA with lots of porches and it used to have chairs and I think a hammock -- grad students always lived there. On the front of the house is a wooden sign (or wooden letters) that say "Idle Hour" -- so the term alwasy brings to mind lazy summer days, mint juleps, gin and tonics, and sunbathing for me.
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Ron - 2005-03-21 22:03:32
Tim Brown is my cousin, Dave Stiles is my uncle. I was a teenager when this happened but it lives in my memory forever. I don't know where Billy is today, but my he rott wherever he is!
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Laura - 2005-03-22 09:20:56
Thank you for visiting the blog, Ron.

To my knowledge Billy is still in jail--for life, if I remember right. I think up in Marquette.
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