COLUMBIA TWP. – Ruth Hagen watched herself on the TV news Friday evening before heading out to watch her grandsons play basketball.
“My red coat looked good,” she said wryly.
That was all viewers saw of the Columbia Township woman in the story of 65-year-old Paul Hausmann of Strongsville who was charged Thursday in a string of shootings at vehicles over the last four months.
Hagen’s car was hit in October, and she did not want her face shown on the news.
According to Berea police, Hausmann is suspected of shooting at four vehicles in Berea and a fifth in Strongsville between August and December. No one was injured.
Hausmann is being charged with felony assault and carrying concealed weapons.
Police say there may be other victims out there whose cars were hit and didn’t realize it. Hagen almost was one of those people.
Sometime in mid-October – she can’t remember the exact date – Hagen was driving from her home to LifeWorks Fitness near Southwest General Hospital in Middleburg Heights.
As she turned onto South Quarry Lane, she recalled, she heard a thud.
“I wondered if someone was shooting,” Hagen said.
But, if there was, she added, she didn’t want to stop. So she continued on to LifeWorks and checked her Toyota Avalon in the parking lot, but she didn’t see any damage. She didn’t mention to her husband, Don, that she heard anything.
The next afternoon, Hagen was watching the news on television when a story came on about another person whose car was hit in the same area where she had heard the thud, and that car had been there about the same time she was.
Worried, she sent Don out to check the car.
Don found a hole under the right bumper near the tailpipe. They immediately contacted police.
“As soon as I saw the bullethole, I got very upset,” Hagen said. “I was so rattled, I could barely remember my Social Security or phone numbers.”
Hagen said she’s been avoiding the area where her car was hit since the incident. She thought maybe it was teens shooting at cars for thrills. Whatever was going on, the route didn’t feel safe for her.
She first heard about an arrest while watching the news, then got the call from police.
According to the Associated Press, Hausmann was arrested Tuesday as he returned to his home, which was under police surveillance. Police told the AP Hausmann was wearing shooting earmuffs and had a revolver and ammunition consistent with the caliber rounds recovered at the shootings.
“Nobody has any idea why he did this,” Hagen said of the shooting suspect. “I’m anxious to find out. What he did, it was dangerous. He could have shot out a tire, or hit the gas tank.”
Contact Melissa Hebert at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.