Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fatal Shooting in Ohio, 1953

Ernest S. Creasy

1893 – 1953
Son of Aaron and Etta Gruissy

Ernest owned and operated a gun shop near Navarre, Ohio. In my previous post I transcribed a newspaper account of a shooting in his shop in 1929. At that time Ernest stopped three bandits who entered his shop with intentions of robbing him. He shot two of those young men and his money was returned. This encounter with a thief did not have a happy outcome. The newspaper account follows...

Local Man to Face Homicide Charges
Deputies Hold Steelworker
Under Guard in Hospital After Gunsmith Slain in Battle near Navarre 

Stark county authorities today continued questioning a wounded steelworker about the fatal shooting of a 59-year-old gunsmith in a wild gun battle near here Saturday.

S. Ernest Creasy, operator of a gun shop on route 21, just north of Navarre, died at 12:10 a.m. Sunday, more than seven hours after exchanging shots with a gunman in his shop. Stark county Coroner E. B. Mozes said Creasy was shot twice in the abdomen. The coroner attributed death to the shots and inter-abdominal hemorrhage.

Meanwhile Sheriff Harry W. Grossglaus said a charge of homicide will be filed against James I. McCray, 32, of 334 McKinley ave SW, who is being held under guard in the Massillon City hospital. Sheriff Grossglaus, taking active part in an investigation for the first time since he was stricken by a heart attack June 1, said the degree of homicide “will be up to the grand jury.”

McCray, who was taken to the hospital shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday told Massillon police that he was shot in the side by a hitchhiker. But Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Nunamaker, reached at the hospital this morning and queried about McCray’s story replied, “That’s out. Now he doesn’t know where he was.” Nunamaker said McCary will be booked as soon as he condition permits. The deputies said that they learned that the man had registered as “Jack Reynolds of 836 Maple st., MNassillon” when he purchased the gun. (Massillon’s directory lists no “Jack Reynolds” and addressed on Maple ave., SE only reach as high as 232.) About a half hour later the man returned, just as Creasy and his wife, Ella, were sitting down to the supper table. Mrs. Creasy said her husband walked into the adjoining gun shop and she heard him say, “What’s the matter, doesn’t the gun work?” Mrs. Creasy said the man answered, “Sure” and started firing. Creasy told the deputies he ducked behind a stack of ammunition cartons after the first fusillade and grabbed a .45 Colt which he kept behind the counter. The gunsmith fired at his attacker and the man fell to the floor of the shop. Creasy said the man cursed him and climbed to his feet and fired again. Creasy, badly wounded, fired a second sheet but deputies said the slug tore through a gun cabinet against the wall and wasn’t close to the gunman. Mrs. Creasy alarmed by the shots, ran into the shop in time to see the gunman running across the front porch to his car. She said he climbed into a black car and drove south on route 21. An ambulance was summoned from Massillon and Creasy was rushed to the hospital.

Deputies said they later found four empty .22 caliber shells on the floor of the gun shop. Two empty shells were found in Creasy’s .45. The officers, however, said they were not sure how many shots were fired by Creasy’s slayer. And they have been unable to find the gun which Creasy sold to the man, and which later was turned on him. Chief Deputy Nunamaker this morning ssaid his men are looking for the missing .22.

McCary was questioned by deputies who picked up a police radio broadcast here, after McCary had appeared at the station with a gunshot wound in his side. Desk patrolman Joseph Slinger summoned Capt. C. A. Davenport and Patrolman Clyde Johnson to take McCray, an employee of the Union Drawn Steel division of Republic Steel Corp., to the hospital.

Deputies Shuey and Dudzik said McCary denied knowledge of Creasy’s shooting, saying he was wounded by a man he had picked up in his car near the Massillon state hospital. Earlier in the day, McCray told deputies, he drove to Greensburg and brought his sister to Massilon, and then drove her back to Greensburg. While returning to Massillon, according to McCray’s statement, he stopped at a tavern in Donaldsville and drank three shots of whiskey. McCray said he  picked up the hitchhiker a short time later while he was driving south on route 21 to a fruit and vegetable stand at the junction of routes 21 and 62. When he approached the fruit stand McCray told the officers, the hitchhiker pulled a gun and ordered him to keep driving down route 21 to route 212, at the Stark-Tuscarawas county line. After turning off route 21 into route 212, McCray said, the hitchhiker ordered him to stop and get out. As he was backing away from the car he was shot, he said. McCary said he then was ordered back into the car and the gunman continued driving on route 212 until he hit a guard rail then he jumped out and fled, McCray told detectives. The wounded man said he then drove his car to police headquarters here. Police said they checked McCary’s car and found it was damaged in the right front end.

Creasy was a native of Greenville, Tex., who came to Beach City as a boy. After serving in World War I he opened a gun shop and restaurant in Beach City, relatives said. Creasy moved his business to the present location about 20 years ago. He was a member of the Fohl Memorial Evangelical-United Brethren church in Navarre and was active in church affairs. Besides his widow, Creasy is survived by a son, the Rev. William Creasy, pastor at the Sterling, O., charge of the Evangelical United Brethren church.

The funeral will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Fohl Memorial church with the Rev. Herbert L. Smith, pastor, officiating. Interment will be made in South Lawn Cemetery, Beach City. Friends may call at the Hug funeral home, Navarre, after 7 p.m. today. The body will be taken from the funeral home to the church where it will lie in state one hour before the service.

Source: Local Man to Face Homicide Charges (Massillon, OH: The Evening Independent, 3 Aug. 1953) 1; digital image, accessed March 2018.

1939 Newspaper Advertisement
Creasy Arms Company 
The Evening Independent, Massillon, OH


  1. This could make a good episode of Law & Order.

  2. What a story. Agree with Wendy, a good episode of Law & Order!

  3. My hubby is the historian in the family, but I can appreciate a good bit of research - and you've done it!
    Great story/archive of this event.

  4. We were just posting about this on the Navarre FB page. Thanks for posting this. You say there was another robbery in 1929? I grew up in Navarre

    1. Yes.
      Did not know there was a facebook page.

  5. I have a photo of 3 Navarre men sitting in Mr Cresseys store if you want to see it. What did Mr Creasey look like

    1. Yes! My Gruissy/Creasy cousins and I would love to see that!


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