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NEWCOMERSTOWN -- A day after a police officer was shot while making a traffic stop, citizens in this village are unsettled.
Retired barber Gene Poland said attitudes toward law enforcement have changed in recent years.
"It's bad now," he said. "This thing against policemen is totally wrong. We need them.
"It's a different world than I was raised in," said Poland, 89. "We left the doors and windows open, screen door maybe hooked, maybe not."
Poland, who operated a barber shop in town for 50 years, was among the visitors at the Newcomerstown Senior Center as lunch was being prepared Wednesday.
Lyle and Kathy Snyder regularly drive the eight miles from West Lafayette to enjoy what they characterize as a family atmosphere at the senior center, located across the street from the police station.
"It has been on our minds how things can happen in this small town like that," Lyle Snyder said of the shooting that occurred just outside the village. "You hear stuff, naturally, from Cleveland and Columbus, and you think, 'It'll never hit down in our small town.'
"Originally, I lived in a big city: Akron, Ohio. And so we moved down here to get away from that kind of stuff 20 years ago."
"Now it seems to be catching up with us," Kathy Snyder said. "Of course, you know, things with drugs -- it's everywhere, small town, it hits everybody. It doesn't matter."
The Snyders also have encountered drug problems on the street where they live. The problem property was worrisome enough they felt they needed to keep their grandchildren indoors.
"We just said, 'Nobody's going out to ride your bikes today,'" Kathy Snyder said.
Law enforcement eventually raided the house that caused their concerns.
Lyle Snyder said local police officers, including Chief Gary Holland, take a personal interest in the well-being of seniors.
"This is the type of police force, if they don't see one of the seniors out and about, or something, they'll go to their house and check on them," he said. "They'll knock on their door and say, 'How are you doing today? What's up?'"
"Or if they haven't seen them or heard from them, they come in here, and say, 'Are they here? Have you seen them?'" Kathy Snyder said.
"That's the extra step that our police take," Lyle Snyder said. "We're really bothered by one of our police being shot."
Officer Bryan Eubanks, 37, was wounded in the right forearm by a bullet fired by the front-seat passenger in a black Geo Tracker he stopped Tuesday morning because it had no license plates. The 14-year member of the Newcomerstown Police Department was released from a hospital after treatment. Area law enforcement agencies are looking for the Tracker, the gunman and the driver.
The fact the officer was shot is weighing on the minds of people who were going about their business Wednesday.
In the words of one woman who declined to give her name, "Obviously, if somebody is shooting at police, they'd shoot at anybody."
Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @nmolnarTR