Officers responding to a report of a man circling a restaurant parking lot, possibly with a gun, had trouble finding the suspect, then heard shots fired inside the building, according to police radio tapes released Monday.
The transmissions add to the picture of a situation that started almost calmly, with Katherina Allen explaining matter-of-factly to a police dispatcher that she had "spouse problems," and then quickly erupted into violence that left three people dead Thursday night.
Police say Kevin Allen shot and killed Katherina Allen and their 10-year-old daughter, Kerri Allen, and critically wounded another daughter, Kayla Allen, before he was shot and killed by police.
According to police records, Thursday was Kerri Allen's birthday.
The tapes released Monday by Brooklyn police in suburban Cleveland reveal that officers found the suspect's vehicle at the Cracker Barrel restaurant but didn't see him.
One officer says, "I don't know where he's at," and then an officer says, "shots fired in the restaurant."
A dispatcher in contact with the restaurant told officers she also heard shots.
An officer reported one person "DOA," or dead on arrival, at the restaurant counter.
Police records dating back nearly 20 years painted a picture of Kevin Allen, married at least three times, as a violent man with a history of threatening his wives and others. Just two days before the shootings, Katherina Allen told police in their hometown of Strongsville that she had left her husband and taken their daughters after "an incident" on Easter and was afraid to go home to collect their belongings.
The night of the shootings, she told a dispatcher her husband had gotten rid of a shotgun, but she'd seen him with shotgun shells.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner says Katherina and Kerri Allen both died from shotgun wounds.