Neenah grad victim of “senseless shooting” at Ohio rest stop

rest stop shooting
(Photo: WCMH)

DELAWARE COUNTY, Ohio (WBAY) – A recent Neenah graduate, Alex Melchert, is in critical condition after being shot at a rest stop in Ohio.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says the suspect later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a police chase.

Witnesses told state police Melchert and a woman stopped at the rest stop on I-71 northbound at about 11 Sunday morning. The suspect, Shawn Johnson, 25, was sitting on a park bench and fired several shots at Melchert’s car.

Medics found Melchert in the parking lot and rushed him to a hospital. State police say he suffered several gunshot wounds.

Four hours later, the Highway Patrol and Delaware County Sheriff’s Deputies later located Johnson’s vehicle and began chasing him. The pursuit came to an end after the suspects’ vehicle drove over road spikes and crashed into a guardrail on Interstate 71 northbound in Richland County.

Troopers then surrounded the vehicle and found Johnson dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

At the College of Wooster, a vigil was held Monday afternoon.

“All of our thoughts and prayers will go out to this individual, specifically because he’s a Woosterian and he’s one of us,” said one student.

Another student added, “It’s very sad you know, like I don’t know the guy personally but when I read it I was so devastated and I really felt for his parents and it’s just very sad.”

The College of Wooster released the following statement:

The College has learned that one of our students, Alexander S. Melchert, a first-year from Wisconsin, was shot at a rest stop on northbound I-71 in Delaware County, Ohio around 11 a.m. this morning. He was transported to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, he is in critical condition….

Dean of Students Scott Brown is in Columbus. Alexander’s parents are on their way to Ohio. College staff have reached out to his roommate, faculty, and others who live on his hall, and counselors and faith professionals are on hand for support.

Brown stayed with Melchert at the hospital until his parents made the trip from Wisconsin.

“You love your kids, you send them away and you never imagine something like this would be happening so being far away and feeling like they were pretty helpless, so I think it was really important for them to get here as quickly as they did,” said Brown.

Melchert is a first-year student at the College of Wooster in Ohio after graduating from Neenah High School last spring.

The Neenah Joint School District says Melchert was a Launch leader, who mentors incoming freshmen, and involved in orchestra.

The school district released a brief statement to Action 2 News Monday:

We are saddened by the news of the senseless shooting of former Neenah High School student Alex Melchert on Sunday in Ohio. The thoughts of the entire Neenah Joint School District community are with Alex and his family as we wish him the best in recovery.”

Copyright 2016 WBAY. Our Media General sister station in Columbus, Ohio, WCMH-TV, contributed to this report.