PORTAGE COUNTY, OH (WOIO) -The Portage County community is rallying together to support a sheriff’s deputy who was set on fire Thursday.
The Portage County Sheriff said authorities were attempting to serve a felony warrant on 49 year old, Jay Edwards Brannon at a property on State Route 44 in Rootstown Thursday.
When Sgt. James Acklin entered the garage, Brannon “took out a lighter and ignited some kind of flammable fluid” according to Sheriff David Doak.
Sheriff Doak described the scene as something out of a movie and said “when he came out the door he was engulfed in flames.”
Sgt. Acklin is recovering in the hospital with severe burns.
Acklin has over 20 years of service and was just 70 days away from retiring at the time of the attack.
Sheriff Doak said it could’ve been much worse had it not been for the quick action of other the other officers and deputies on scene. “There were a couple NEOMED officers that were there that were on their game and got him down on the ground or this could’ve really been bad.”
Sheriff Doak told Cleveland 19 he’s been visiting and speaking to Acklin frequently and “he’s in pretty good spirits.” He added, “He’s going to pull through this, is think, but it’s going to be a long road for him.”
Sheriff Doak said this attack stands out because it’s not something officers typically prepare for. In fact, in his 50 years of service, he hasn’t seen an attack like this. He said in the past decade, he’s only seen assaults on officers get worse.
“Fire is nothing to play with” said Sheriff Doak. “Typically we are anticipating someone with a gun, a knife… some kind of object. That’s what set this aside from the average assault.”
The department has received an outpouring of support for Sgt. Acklin and his family, through phone calls, social media posts, and donations. The sheriff described Acklin as a humble man, very involved in the community, and said he’s touched by the outpouring of support.
The sheriff’s department is unable to accept monetary donations directly, but they are accepting donations such as gas cards and gift cards.
Sheriff Doak posted this update on Facebook after visiting Sgt. Acklin on Sunday afternoon: