Man Pleads Guilty In Barnesville Shootout

The apparent aggressor in a Barnesville altercation that ended with an exchange of gunfire pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault.

Mitchell Tristan Metzler, 32, of 12825 Battleridge Road, Cambridge, Ohio, appeared before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato and entered a guilty plea to one count of aggravated assault, a felony of the fourth degree that occurred May 16. He had been set to go to trial on the charge Thursday. His sentencing was set for March 12, and a pre-sentence investigation and victim impact statement were ordered.

The charge stemmed from an altercations on Franklin Street in Barnesville at the home of Greg Sears. According to law enforcement, Sears and Metzler had been having a dispute for some time, allegedly because of a relationship between Metzler and Sears’ estranged wife, Chelsea Sears.

According to the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, Metzler visited Sears’ residence twice the night of May 16. On the first visit, a physical altercation occurred between Metzler and Sears in which Metzler reportedly brandished a firearm. He left and returned later in the company of his brother, Michael Smith. However, Sears had armed himself by that time.

According to reports, Smith attacked Sears when he opened his door. Sears then drew his own gun and shot Smith. Metzler, who was nearby, allegedly fired at Sears and into his residence. Sears then apparently shot Metzler.

The two wounded men drove themselves to the local hospital and were later flown by medical helicopter to Pittsburgh. A bullet reportedly was retrieved from inside the Sears residence.

Prosecutor Dan Fry pointed out that the occupants of the house, including a juvenile, were placed in grave danger during this confrontation.

Smith is charged with assault and remains scheduled to appear in Belmont County Western Division Court for a hearing on March 13.