Standoff Man Was Due In Court On Same Day

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A man who took his own life inside a pharmacy after holding hostages was due in court the same day to determine whether he should go into a drug treatment program.

Andrew J. Ofiara, 19, and his attorney were scheduled to appear before Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jane Bond. Ofiara's attorney, Eric Norton, of Cleveland, said everything appeared to be in order for an extended treatment program.

But Ofiara never appeared in court on Monday. That morning in Cuyahoga Falls, Ofiara walked into Klein's Pharmacy with an assault rifle, took hostages and demanded a bottle of the painkiller Vicodin. When his hostages were freed, Ofiara shot himself.

"The prosecutor was agreeable, and the people we had spoken to in the probation department were very receptive to the treatment program," Norton said. "For the last month or so, everything the young man did was like a cry for help for his addiction."

Barry Klein, co-owner of the pharmacy and one of the hostages released by Ofiara while police were negotiating with him by phone from a nearby restaurant, said Ofiara talked about his mother's suicide five years ago.

"Around that time," Klein said, "he said he started developing a substance abuse problem, and he had tried quitting, getting off the drugs, and he had failed."

The Akron Beacon Journal reported Wednesday that Summit County court records show that there were three felony drug cases pending against Ofiara -- all for illegally obtaining Vicodin. A nine-count indictment was filed against Ofiara on Jan. 24, charging him with impersonating a police officer and multiple counts of deception to obtain a dangerous drug.

Norton also said Ofiara had become a confidential informant for Cuyahoga Falls police. Police Capt. Tom Tomlinson said the department had set up a meeting with narcotics detectives for that purpose.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)