September 23, 2013
Harry Mitts, Jr.’s execution is scheduled to occur on September 25, 2013, at 10 am EDT, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. Harry is convicted of killing 28-year-old John Bryant and 44-year-old Sergeant Dennis Glivar on August 14, 1994, in Garfield Heights, Ohio. Harry was also convicted of the attempted murder of 38-year-old Lieutenant Thomas Kaiser and 38-year-old Officer John Mackey. Harry has spent, approximately, the past 19 years on death row.
According to Harry Mitts, on Sunday, August 14, 1994, he planned to spend the day like most Sundays, fishing. Due to heavy rain, Mitts’ plans were altered. Instead of fishing, he went to the shooting range. When he returned home, Mitts put the gun in a closet in his apartment and poured himself a shot of bourbon. Mitts does not remember what happened next, only that when he “snapped back to reality,” the bourbon bottle was empty and he had moved on to drinking scotch. Additionally, Mitts had a .44 Magnum strapped to his side, a 9 mm holstered in the small of his back, and a .22 Buckmark lying nearby. All were loaded and there was a small cooler nearby, loaded with extra ammunition.
That evening, according to court records, a couple was moving into another apartment in the building. A friend, who was helping them move, ran into Mitts in the hallway. Mitts pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him if he did not leave. The couple called 9-1-1, telling police that there was a man threatening to shoot people.
After that confrontation, Mitts went outside, where he came across Tracey Griffin and her boyfriend John Bryant, who was black. (Tracey was familiar with Mitts, as their children had played together.) Mitts aimed his gun at John and a dot of red light appeared on John’s chest. Mitts said, “[expletives deleted], I’m just sick and tired of [expletive deleted].” A shot rang out, and John fell down. Mitts walked away, continuing to sporadically fire his gun.
Around 8:15 pm, Patrolman John Cermak arrived at the scene. Mitts fired several shots at him, forcing him to take cover. Lieutenant Thomas Kaiser and Sergeant Dennis Glivar arrived shortly after Patrolman Cermak. Mitts retreated to his apartment. Lt. Kaiser and Sgt. Glivar approached the apartment. Mitts flung the door open and fired with a gun in each hand. Lt. Kaiser was shot in the chest and right hand. Sgt. Glivar was repeatedly shot, causing him to drop his shotgun. Lt. Kaiser was able to force Mitts to retreat by firing with his left hand. After Mitts retreated to his apartment, Lt. Kaiser called for additional police assistance, including the local SWAT team.
Lt. Kaiser tried to talk Mitts into surrendering, however Mitts was resistant. Mitts said “The only way we’re going to end this is if you kill me. You have to come down, you have to do your job, and you have to kill me.” Upon hearing the request for a SWAT team, Mitts responded “Go ahead, bring the SWAT team in, I have thousands of rounds of ammunition. I’ll kill your whole SWAT team. I’ll kill your whole police department.”
Mitts also told Lt. Kaiser that he was angry because the Grand River Police Chief “stole my wife.” While inside of his apartment, Mitts called his ex-wife and her husband, Grand River Police Chief, telling them “it’s all over with now.” Grand River Police Chief also tried to talk Mitts into surrendering, however, Mitts refused. Mitts claimed that he had intended to kill his ex-wife and her husband but refrained because his daughter lived with them.
Around 8:40 pm, Maple Heights Police Officer John Mackey arrived to assist Lt. Kaiser. Officer Mackey took over Lt. Kaiser’s role as negotiator and talked with Mitts for approximately 30 minutes. Mitts, again, refused to surrender and would occasionally fire off shots. Around 9:30 pm, Mitts fired a shot which hit Officer Mackey in the leg. Around 1:00 am, tear gas was injected into Mitts apartment by the SWAT team. Mitts was finally subdued around 2:00 am.
Mitts, who had also been shot during the exchange of fire, was taken to a local hospital. At 3:43 am, a blood sample was taken, and his alcohol level was determined to be .21. In 1994, in Ohio, the legal blood alcohol limit was .10.
John Bryant died approximately 30 minutes after being shot in the chest. The bullet pierced both lungs and tore the aorta artery. Sgt. Dennis Glivar died within minutes of receiving five gunshot wounds which perforated his lungs, liver, heart, kidney, stomach, and intestines. Lt. Thomas Kaiser and Officer John Mackey were both injured, but they survived.
According to Harry Mitts, while in prison, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and, after being sentenced to death on November 21, 1994, he was given a Bible from the mother and sister of Sgt. Glivar.
Please pray for peace for the families of John Bryant and Sgt. Dennis Glivar. Please pray for healing for Lt. Thomas Kaiser, Officer John Mackey, and their families. Please pray that Harry will come to find peace through his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.