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Standoff ends: Gunman surrenders, boy safe

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LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - A gunman who held a 10-year-old boy hostage for nearly 30 hours surrendered early Sunday and the child is safe, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said.

Donald Tobias Gazaway, 31, was taken into custody as the SWAT standoff finally ended about 6:30 a.m, according to the sheriff's office.

He was booked into the jail at 9:33 a.m. on charges of kidnapping, felonious assault and inducing panic.

The boy is fine and was given something to eat and then went to a local hospital with his mother to be checked, according to the sheriff's office.

'I'm just happy that this turned out all right and he's going to be OK," the boy's mother told reporters at the scene, insisting on anonymity.

"Everything gets back to not normal, but I can have peace of mind."

Several police and fire vehicles already have left the scene at the Springs of Liberty Township Apartments off Hamilton-Mason Road.

Authorities are expected to release more details at a 1 p.m. news conference.

The man and boy spent more than 12 hours overnight in the backseat of a vehicle running in a garage attached to an apartment. 

The heat was on in the vehicle, and the garage door was open to let fumes out, sheriff's officials said.

SWAT negotiators tried to communicate with the man, who is not related to the child.

At times he responded; other times he did not, according to the sheriff.

All the while, he kept the boy close.

The standoff began about 1 a.m. Saturday during a dispute between the suspect and the boy's mother, according to the sheriff.

The mother and another person who was in the apartment at the time ran out.

But son remained inside with the gunman for several hours before the suspect took took him to the car later Saturday morning.

A man was arrested and charged with interfering with authorities at the scene of the standoff, records show.

Rodderick Dontane Trammel, 35, is held at the Butler County Jail on one count each of misconduct at an emergency and disorderly conduct.

Sheriff's officials said a copy of his arrest slip was not available at the jail when FOX19 NOW went there early Sunday to get the public record.

During a press conference at the scene Saturday, Jones said the situation proved much more difficult than any other SWAT scene he'd encountered because the boy's presence kept them from taking action to end the standoff.

This also was one of the longest standoffs anyone could remember. Jones, who has been in law enforcement more than 40 years, said it certainly was the longest he was ever involved in.

Latonia police took a former combat veteran into custody following a 19-hour standoff in 2013.

"The gunman has led us a couple times to believe he is coming out but doesn't. It's just a marathon at this point. Everyone is concerned about the boy."

The suspect fired 20 to 30 shots at deputies Saturday morning and early Saturday afternoon. Authorities did not return fire, according to the sheriff.

SWAT team members believed he had more ammunition.

"He's not shooting at us so that's a positive thing, that's as positive as it is right now, we are talking with him, I don't know if we are negotiating with him but we are talking with him, but when he's not shooting at us that's a positive thing." Jones said Saturday.

As the day dragged on into the night without end in sight, his staff ended their shifts after working nearly 20 hours straight and relief arrived.

Overnight, SWAT teams from West Chester and Hamilton police took over the scene in a joint operation with sheriff's commanders who remained.

"It's harder to see, it gets colder, it's hard to walk, people inside are tired, the child is tired. There comes a point where we have to get warming stations, we have to feed people, we have to feed that people that are inside. We just keep waiting and talking." Jones said of conditions as the sun sets.

Jones said that the child seemed okay as they spoke Saturday with the suspect, but they knew he was in grave danger.

"It's not good, we are in a bad situation right now. We are just going to try to wait it out and see if something changes."

Liberty Township is located about 40 minutes north of downtown Cincinnati.

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