Property owners’ claim denied for damages

By Melanie Yingst

January 2, 2014

By Melanie Yingst

Staff Writer


TROY — The city of Troy’s insurance company has verbally denied compensation for a Troy homeowner’s property damage, which was caught in the middle of the crossfire of Sunday morning’s shootout on Monroe Street.

The shootout left one Troy man dead and a Troy officer wounded.

According to Troy Public Safety and Service Director Patrick Titterington, the city’s insurance company, Miami Valley Risk Management Association, has verbally denied compensation for the damages to Troy resident Grant Armstrong’s home, located at 21 S. Monroe St., and his three vehicles, which were riddled with bullets from the incident on Sunday.

Armstrong’s home was caught in the crossfire of the shootout, which left bullet holes in the home’s bathtub, walls and in a bedroom of his home. Armstrong confirmed bullet holes were found in multiple rooms of his home and his insurance company has rendered two of three vehicles a total loss.

On Thursday, Titterington said the representative of MVRMA cited the state law providing immunity for damages caused by the city’s police department unless negligence can be proved as the reason why Armstrong’s claims were denied by the city’s insurance. Titterington said the investigation is still pending by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and at this time, the city’s insurance has verbally denied coverage for Armstrong’s property.

Titterington said pictures and paperwork of the damage were submitted to city officials by Armstrong this week.

Titterington said compensation for the victims of damage may be available through the state.

A representative from the state of Ohio’s Attorney General Office said if the home was occupied during the incident, the homeowners can apply for compensation through the state’s Victim’s Compensation Fund. The representative said there was no guarantee their application would be approved and the fund would not cover the cars involved in the incident, but the fund could be applied for the damage made to the home. According to the Victim’s Compensation Fund’s website, the maximum total payments are limited to $50,000, and several expenses have caps. Payments cannot be made for pain and suffering or for stolen, damaged or lost property.

The Sunday morning shooting left Franklin Jones III, 30, of Troy dead after four officers, three from Troy Police Department and one Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputy, responded to the area after 24-year old Samuel Butler was allegedly shot and wounded by Jones. Officers confronted Jones in an alley off of Monroe Street and gun shots were exchanged and Jones was pronounced dead on the scene.

Sgt. Jeff Kunkleman was wounded in the leg during the exchange and is expected to make a full recovery.

Editor’s Note: The following text was submitted Thursday to the Troy Daily News by Grant Armstrong and his family concerning the shooting incident on Dec. 29, that left their home and three vehicles damaged by bullets.

Dear TDN,

The lives in the Armstrong home have been changed forever by the shootings that took place Sunday morning Dec. 29. Approximately 1:30 a.m. we were awaken by gunfire – about 5 or 6 rounds that seemed to be just a few houses away.  We watched some of the activities of the police and emergency medical crew from out the window and then laid back in bed. Maybe 20 to 30 minutes later, we realized that we were in for a second round.

The suspect that the police were searching for ended up taking refuge at the corner of our home. I do not know the details that led up to the gunfight, but the gun battle that took place in our yard and at the corner of our home put our lives in danger. The gunshots rattled the windows of our home and for a time, we thought that it was our house that was the actual target.  One of my children literally fell down the stairs as we all tried to centrally gather in the middle of the house. I yelled at everyone in my house to lie flat on the floor. There was no place and no position that seemed safe enough. The number of rounds fired are simply too many to estimate and as for how long, any gunfire is too long and seems like forever.

When the gun battle was over, we found that we had survived. No one in our house was shot, but we soon realized that it was not by much.

The police banged on our door and asked if anyone was injured. We told them that we were not injured and that we had one family member that was not yet home. At that time, we did not know who was involved and what other injuries may have taken place outside of our home.

It is not my job to second guess the actions of the police. My story is really part of the aftermath. Aside from the emotional factors that are involved in such an incident, where your life or the life of a family member could have been forever changed or ended, it is dealing with putting the pieces together.

Our house now has 25 bullet holes. The inside of my daughter and granddaughter’s bedroom has bullet holes. Our bathroom has multiple bullet holes. Three different cars that my children drive to school and work have too many bullet holes for me to count. Two of the cars are totaled and the third is in need of repair. This is what our family and my children get to deal with that is on top of all the emotional issues that the incident has caused.

Our homeowners insurance has been responsive and is beginning the steps that would help in house repairs. Besides the inconvenience and the deductible, we feel like these things can be repaired. It is no small inconvenience to have the only bathroom repaired for a family of seven.

The damage to the cars, though covered by liability insurance, will not be covered in this incident. They are not expensive cars, but we rely on them heavily. Three children in college and one with a child — the cars are not things we can just up and do without.

We were given paperwork to apply for funds from Ohio Victims of Crime Compensation Program, but then were soon directed to the Troy Safety Service Director’s office. They gathered some information and forwarded that to Miami Valley Risk Management.

For just a short while, we thought that we had gone to the right place, but we received a call from Craig Blair at the Miami Valley Risk Management office and were told that the police department was not responsible for the damage that we incurred and that the department was protected by law.

For some families that have a lot of resources, this perhaps could be a set of manageable challenges. For me and my family, the challenges are overwhelming. Not one person from the city has knocked on our door and asked how things are going and if there is anything that can be done to reduce the level of stress and turmoil that has come with this horrible event. Our family is still working to feel safe within the walls of our home, but we are quickly losing confidence that the city has our back in any of this.

— Grant Armstrong