The death of the guy who shot and murdered four people in the Ashland region in mid-December, according to investigators, is shrouded in some mystery. At 9:04 p.m. on December 14, the guy from Ashland, Ronald L. Cobren, 62, was pulled over by the Jacksonville police. The body was found inside his vehicle on North Main Street, between Oak and Walnut streets, in the city.
Earlier that night, authorities in Cass County reacted to two sites close to Ashland. There, they discovered the bodies of five people: Christina Bell, 53 years old; Alaria Bell, 16 years old; Autumn Bell, 19 years old; and Mariposa Pena, Autumn’s pregnant daughter, who had suffered gunshot wounds. The shooting injured five people; one of them, Brein Pena, was taken to the hospital.
At 752 Lockard St., Lot 51, Ashland, the bodies of Christina and Alaria Bell were discovered. The couple, Autumn Bell and Pena, were found in rural Ashland at 308 Philadelphia Road. Reports of the last gunshot came in approximately 8:30 p.m. on December 14.
According to Devron Ohrn, the sheriff of Cass County, he is unaware of Pena’s condition or whether he is still in the hospital. No one was able to reach Pena despite several attempts. “There is nothing new and no additional people involved,” stated Ohrn.
No, the case is still open. The fact that the suspect is no longer alive and will face no repercussions for his actions makes me uncomfortable, therefore I try not to use that language,” Ohrn added. “But we are still going through reports and putting things together to better understand what happened.”
Several explanations for Cobren’s journey to Jacksonville have been proposed, according to Ohrn. “We have no idea why he went to Jacksonville, because we can’t ask him,” said Ohrn. Little is known about the approximately 33 minutes that elapsed between a Jacksonville police officer seeing Cobren as he went by North School at 9:01 p.m. on December 14 and his death at 9:34 p.m.
The coroner for Morgan County, Marcy Patterson, who declared Cobren dead, stated that the gunshot wound was self-inflicted. The Journal-Courier sought dashcam or bodycam footage of the stop of Cobren through an Illinois Freedom of Information Act request. After the publication appealed the rejection, the request was granted.
“While expressing his opposition to the release of the dashcam tape, Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford detailed what transpired during the incident with Cobren in Jacksonville. For many police officers and emergency personnel, this episode was traumatic. Currently, they are experiencing it all over again,” Mefford stated.
The police and emergency personnel deserve praise for apprehending and apprehending this person. Their lightning-fast reflexes prevented this assailant from inflicting any additional damage. Mefford provided context for the 36 minutes and 14 seconds of silent video by explaining what was happening.
Mefford added that the agency had received information from Cass County indicating that Cobren had gone south and was likely making his way toward Jacksonville just before he was pulled up. The GMC Yukon that Cobren was allegedly driving was a dark green color and has the words “Butch’s Woodworking” emblazoned on the door.
We kept an eye on him in the city’s northern outskirts. He was followed into town by an officer who had been watching him at North School. According to Mefford, the officer activated his lights and the vehicle eventually came to a stop.
At 9:01 p.m., the officer saw Cobren’s vehicle near North School. At 9:04 p.m., Cobren came to a stop on North Main Street. The officer stops his police car and walks to its front bumper, as seen through the video.
The officer is instructing the suspect to stop, roll down the window, and display his hands during that sequence in which the squad car is following behind the suspect’s vehicle. He went over the instructions multiple times. The objective was to make him quit. But those orders went unanswered, according to Mefford.
We knew from sources in Cass County that the suspect was going to put up a fight, so we approached him with caution. That being the case, we couldn’t reach him throughout that period. Originally, Mefford had planned to try to talk that person out of the vehicle.
North Main Street was cordoned off by police as they prepared for an incident; some policemen went door-to-door informing homeowners to remain inside, while others were stationed on Oak Street to the north and Walnut Street to the south.
According to Mefford, additional officers from the sheriff’s departments of Morgan and Cass counties as well as the Illinois State Police are arriving. “At the same time, we are still attempting to establish contact with Cobren,” he added. Prior to our shift commander’s request, the Special Response Team had been assembled.
Former Deputy Police Chief Chad Moore, who has since retired, was in charge of the team. Concurrently, the fire brigade was activated.
According to Mefford, the vehicle began to spew smoke at around 9:15 p.m. due to the accelerator being jammed wide open. Not long after that, the Yukon’s exhaust begins to emit sparkles.
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