Twenty-three year old man shot dead by police in a marijuana raid Dayton Daily News 10/01/02 Cathy Mong Dozens protest Preble County police shooting Slain man's roommates say he was unarmed EATON - Preble County law-enforcement officials declined to talk publicly Monday as they turned information about Friday's fatal shooting by a police officer of a 23-year-old man over to detectives from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. Montgomery County investigators, called in by Preble County Sheriff Tom Hayes, also said they would not talk about their review of the shooting by a member of a Preble County's emergency services group - officers from a number of police departments who are trained to handle drownings and hostage and other situations. However, it was anything but quiet outside the Preble County Courthouse, where dozens of friends and relatives picketed and said that police were covering up what happened to Clayton Jacob Helriggle, 23, of 1282 Ohio 503 South. The protesters disputed police claims that Helriggle had a gun when he descended a stairwell and was shot by a Lewisburg police officer, whose identity has not been released. Friends and relatives on Monday carried blue plastic cups similar to the one they said Helriggle had in his hand Friday night. Among the protesters were four of Helriggle's roommates, three of whom said they were inside the brick farmhouse when police stormed the house to serve a warrant to search for narcotics. Maj. Wayne Simpson of the Preble County Sheriff's Office declined to discuss information about what happened Friday night and said a report on the shooting of the Preble County man had not been completed. Preble County Prosecutor Rebecca Ferguson said she sealed the search warrant after the shooting, and had no comment regarding the investigation. "They're a professional group of officers, that's what their job is, and I'm not going to second-guess them. Whatever (Montgomery County officials) come up with, they come up with," Ferguson said. Friends called Helriggle "peaceful and nonviolent," but police said the 1997 Twin Valley South High School graduate held a 9 mm handgun, not a blue cup, in his right hand when he descended the dimly lighted stairs. Roommates said Helriggle owned a 9 mm gun, but that it was upstairs when police entered their house. "It's like we were armed, hardened criminals waiting inside to take them on," said Wes Bradley, 26, who lived in the bottom of the six-bedroom farmhouse with his girlfriend, 22-year-old Tasha Webster. Bradley said he and Webster were near the kitchen next to the stairs, when officers "broke through the back door with battering rams and started throwing in flash grenades three at a time, to blind us." The officers wore full body armor and carried shields, he said. Another roommate, Ian Albert, said he had returned home from the grocery store with Chris Elmore, 24, who remained outside while Albert ran into the house. "We saw at least two paddy wagon-type vehicles, like a SWAT bus," Elmore said. "About 30 officers stormed out of the woods" surrounding the farmhouse. "They'd cut the barbed wire, and you could see a staging area, like where 25 to 30 uniformed cops had been lying down and slithered along the grass." Officers ordered Elmore to get on the ground, and he said he heard three pops, which he said could have been the flash grenades and gunshot. "I yelled 'Nobody's armed,' and they told me, 'Shut up, shut up.' â€ Elmore described the action "like a movie, in slow motion." Inside, Albert said, the police threw him against the staircase, "with my head on the second step up. I wanted to yell at Clay, but I looked up and saw him, rounding the stairway, and he had this look on his face, like, 'What's going on?' and the cops yelled, 'Get down' and then 'boom.' â€ Albert, who completed four months of Navy Seal training, said he reached up for Helriggle, "and I tried to apply pressure," he said, placing his left palm on his right chest, where Helriggle was struck by the gunshot. "He died in my arms," he said. "It took about two minutes." Albert said he was placed in a sheriff's car, and Helriggle's parents arrived. "They saw me, drenched in Clay's blood, and they ask me, 'Is he all right?' and I just shook my head. The cops are smoking and joking, high-fiving each other. Wow, I think, they took down a farm of unarmed hippies. "If they would have come to the door and said, 'Give us your dope, hippies,' we'd have gotten about a $100 ticket." Police said they confiscated a small amount of marijuana, pills, drug paraphernalia and quantities of packaging items used in the distribution of marijuana. The four roommates said they smoke marijuana from time to time and that they had marijuana pipes in the house. Bradley said he had a prescription for Fiorocet, a codeinelike painkiller, for a bad knee. They said the packaging police referred to was a box of plastic sandwich bags. Webster said there was nothing in the house "that a good divorce lawyer couldn't have gotten us out on a misdemeanor," and said an old shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle found there were used for hunting. "We target-practiced outside all the time, shot at bales of hay, jugs, that sort of thing," Webster said. Bradley and Webster said Helriggle took a nap around 5 p.m. and had made plans to meet his girlfriend later. "I'm not sure if he woke up from the bashing on the door or what," Bradley said. All four said they were not read their rights or told what charges were filed against them. They were released from the Preble County Jail around 1:30 a.m. Saturday. No criminal charges have been filed. Nancy Fahrenholz, the daughter of Everett "Bill" Fahrenholz, an attorney and former country prosecutor, hugged Bradley on Monday at the courthouse. Helriggle and five roommates rented the house from the Fahrenholzes. "I'm so sorry," said Fahrenholz, a Rhode Island resident in the area to finish up the estate of her father, Bill Fahrenholz, who died a month ago. "(Dad) would have been furious at this," she said. "We're all very distressed." She said Helriggle "was a really nice guy," and that her family was pleased with the five young people's work on rehabilitating the farmhouse. Helriggle's 77-year-old grandfather, Donald, a Miamisburg resident and Ohio Bell retiree, said his grandson rented the farmhouse "so they could play their instruments, listen to their music and drink a little beer. . . . They just wanted to be doing what 23-year-olds do."