Middlefield shooting: The secret life of James Gilkerson

7:46 PM, May 3, 2013   |    comments
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MENTOR-ON-THE-LAKE -- While there's no way to change what happened March 10, police say the disturbing details surrounding the man who shot at Middlefield police have led them to a new investigation.

James Gilkerson was, by all appearances, a nice man who devoted his time to caring for his elderly mother in Mentor-on-the-Lake.

But police, now calling him a terrorist, say even she didn't know things about her 42-year-old son.

"There's no really criminal history to this guy. He didn't work. He was a loner," said Middlefield Police Chief Arnold Stanko.

But it seems doting son was just a mask for a man planning another identity.

Gilkerson was shot and killed after he opened fire on police officers and he might have been planning an attack much bigger.


"Now phase two of the investigation is going to be: who was this guy? What was he doing?" said Jim Flaiz, the Geauga County prosecutor.

Middlefield police officers found an arsenal in a duffle bag on the passenger seat of his mother's green Saturn sedan -- knives, guns, nearly 400 bullets and the gunpowder to make more, or build explosives.


"He also had a black ski mask, black leather gloves. He had a number of books and pamphlets in his trunk, instructional videos on gun fighting and some other things," said Flaiz.

The makeshift library of books and videos read like a sickening instruction manual: advanced rifle techniques, the big book of homemade weapons, "Be your own undertaker" and "Acquiring new ID."

While James Gilkerson can't tell us what he was planning, police are determined to find answers.

"When you see what he had, how much ammunition he had, and how he reacted to being pulled over by the police," said Flaiz. "Certainly I think you can speculate that these officers might have prevented a tragedy down the road."

Did anyone else know what Gilkerson was up to?

That's still part of the investigation. Prosecutors have interviewed his mother, Dorothy Gilkerson, who's since been forced to move in with another relative for care.

They say she's tried to be helpful but she's distraught and has no answers for his behavior.


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