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Maybe my husband would still be here’

Lantern file photo

Theresa Wallington says faith in God has helped her family endure the year since her husband Larry, an Ohio State maintenance supervisor, was shot and killed by co-worker Nathaniel Brown.

But anger remains toward the university that the Wallington family says could have done more to prevent Larry’s death.

“Just having God to lead and guide us and to make sense of the tragedy of Larry’s death, and to keep my children encouraged and strength,” Theresa told The Lantern on Tuesday. “We just couldn’t have done it without Him.”

The Lantern reported on Sept. 22 that Tasha Bozeman, who worked near Larry, 48, a Facilities Operations and Development supervisor, heard the first shot at 3:30 a.m. on March 9, 2010.

Bozeman saw Nathaniel Brown, 51, standing in a trench coat behind Larry repeatedly firing shots from two handguns, a Glock .45-caliber and a Ruger 9mm. The shots missed Larry, but injured another boss, Henry Butler, who was then 60 years old. Brown, in pursuit of Larry as he ran out of the office, was able to shoot him three times, before shooting himself in the head, according to an OSU police report.

E-mails sent to and voicemails left with Butler were not returned. No one answered the door at Butler’s house on Tuesday night.

Sarah V. Bland, who graduated from OSU in 1949 and is Butler’s neighbor, said Henry is still undergoing physical therapy as a result of being shot near his shoulder.

Bland said Butler has been on a leave of absence from FOD since the shootings.

A search of Brown’s house revealed handwritten notes suggesting he planned the killing when learning weeks before that he was going to be fired for poor job performance, the report said.

Since the tragedy happened, Theresa said she has spoken with Butler, “who said that Larry did voice his concern to OSU supervisors about being safe up there. But the bigger part was Nate was mentally unstable.”

Theresa and others said OSU didn’t need to look far for warnings of Brown’s troublesome behavior.

Neighbor Sarah Bland discusses last year’s shooting victim, Henry Butler by The Lantern OSU

“(Larry) over and over again expressed that (Brown) was dangerous,” Theresa said. “I think (OSU) could have listened to him. There were a couple times things really got out of hand and I know that there was a complaint one day … he kind of was really out of control then.

“I just think that had (OSU) listened to the voice of reasoning in this situation, maybe my husband would still be here today.”

Larry’s daughter, Amanda Wallington, 21, agreed with her mother.

911 call from OSU Shooting March 9, 2010 by The Lantern OSU

Amanda, a first-year in psychology at Columbus State, said OSU could have “definitely” prevented the shootings, but “no one seemed to take (Larry) serious enough.”

OSU did not immediately comment.

Rene Austin, who worked with Brown, told police a week after the shootings that Brown and Wallington often butted heads at work. Austin said Wallington singled Brown out for work violations most workers committed.

Interviews with Brown’s ex-girlfriend, Donna Dunson, indicated he was an abusive boyfriend and quickly lost his temper. Days before the shootings, she went to his house to lend money to Brown, who struggled to pay for his house. That night, the report said, he beat her head and face with a black handgun.

Two of Brown’s friends had told Dunson that he was planning on doing something “stupid” after he learned he would be fired, according to the report.

University officials, however, said the signs weren’t as clear.

“Anyone would wish in hindsight that this tragedy could have been prevented, but there was really not evidence that it could have been,” said Mary Lynn Readey, associate vice president for FOD, in September.

OSU has programs to investigate and fire violent employees, but Readey said those mechanisms “simply did not get triggered.” A background check never turned up that Brown had spent time in prison for receiving stolen property.

On Sept. 2, Larry Lewellen, former vice president of the Department of Human Resources, sent a campus-wide e-mail announcing plans to require employees to undergo background checks by a contractor before they are hired.

The Lantern reported Tuesday that Lewellen said the new background check policy is scheduled to begin seven months later on April 1 and current employees who have prior convictions have been screened for crimes committed.

“A background check would’ve made a big difference,” Theresa said. “A few phone calls would’ve made a big difference.”

USG President Micah Kamrass said the anniversary of the campus shootings are “a reminder of the importance to be mindful, and to look out for events that we never expect to happen at Ohio State.”

Amanda said she still thinks about her father.

“Memories come back,” she said. “I’m really sad. I miss him a lot.”

Theresa said there is a private memorial service and dinner for Larry this evening at Black Lake Park.

Ally Marotti and Larry Bauman contributed to this story.

 

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