Image: Michael Hance
Phil Long  /  AP
Police say Michael Hance shot and severely wounded his live-in girlfriend, then killed seven family members at several locations in their Copley neighborhood. staff and news service reports
updated 8/10/2011 11:41:21 AM ET 2011-08-10T15:41:21

A man who authorities say shot and killed seven people bought one of the two handguns used in the shootings from a northeast Ohio pawn shop five days earlier.

Michael Hance, 51, bought the weapon at Sydmor's Jewelry in downtown Barberton, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. Store owner Tom Sydmor told the newspaper that workers noticed nothing unusual about the man when he came into the store five days before Sunday's rampage.

Since Hance had no criminal record, he easily cleared a federal background check and took immediate possession of a .45-caliber weapon, the newspaper said.

“There was nothing here that would have had any of us suspect anything,” Sydmor told the Beacon Journal.

Police say federal authorities have been tracing two handguns linked to Hance, who died in a gunfight with police after killing seven people. They were still trying to determine the history of the other weapon.

Neighbors in the Akron suburb where the shootings occurred say the violence stemmed from a dispute over the home where Hance lived with his longtime girlfriend, Becky Dieter, who was also shot but survived. The home had belonged to Dieter's deceased parents.

After shooting Dieter, Hance killed seven family members at several locations in their Copley neighborhood Sunday, according to authorities. Hance was shot and killed by Copley police.

Story: Woman: Alleged Ohio killer of 7 in estate dispute

Hance often read textbooks on diseases and medical procedures and tried to get others interested, neighbor Carol Eshleman said. He also made and drank odd health concoctions and claimed he didn't have to work because he was an inventor, she said.

He seemed constantly under stress, trying to deal with possessions of relatives who had recently died, said Eshleman, a 64-year-old driver for public school special education students.

"Mike was strange," she said, but "I wouldn't think he'd go to this extreme."

Hance was a 1978 graduate of Norton High School. According to his yearbook, he was chosen as “Most Courteous” for his “consideration and good manners toward everyone," the Beacon Journal reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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