Ohio firefighter commits suicide in fire station

Christopher D. Downs, 47, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the head; he's married and a father of five


The Columbus Dispatch

ATHENS COUNTY, Ohio — Extra counselors will be on hand again today in the Trimble Local school district in Athens County to help students and employees cope with the death of a popular teacher, coach and volunteer firefighter.

Christopher D. Downs, 47, died yesterday at the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department station from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the head, Sheriff Rodney Smith said.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the shooting, which was reported at 5:27 a.m. No foul play is suspected, Smith said.

Downs, the married father of five children, taught fourth grade at Trimble Elementary School. He had taught and coached multiple sports in the district for 20 years and currently was the high school’s athletic director, said district Superintendent Scott Christman.

Christman delayed the elementary school’s normal 8:30 a.m. starting time until 10:30 a.m. yesterday so that he could assemble the staff and counselors and make sure that everyone was prepared for the arrival of students.

He said he plans to have extra counselors available again today.

Everyone in the small district of about 1,000 students was shocked and saddened, said Christman, who said he had seen no sign that anything was amiss with Downs.

“He was a beloved staff member and community member. He is going to be sadly missed,” Christman said.

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