The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 10, 2013

Conneaut police arrest 4 in vicinity of prison

One man injures officer before fleeing

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — An increased police presence outside the Lake Erie Correctional Institution led to the arrest of four men on Conneaut’s east side Monday night, including one man who injured an officer before fleeing, according to reports.

Police strongly suspect the foursome were in town to smuggle contraband into the LaECI, said Chief Charles Burlingham. The man who fled was covered in mud and snow, and walking a short distance from prison property when he encountered police, officers said. He was apprehended a few blocks away, along with three men police suspect of trying to aid his escape.

The man who police said tussled with the officer and then ran has been identified in Conneaut Municipal Court records as Anthony J. West, 28, of Youngstown. He has  been charged with assault of a police officer (fourth-degree felony), obstructing justice (first degree misdemeanor), obstructing official business and resisting arrest (both second degree misdemeanors).

Three other men were charged with obstructing official business, according to court records. They are: Jawann M. Evans, 35, of Youngstown; Brandon R. Miller, 28, of Youngstown; and Cregg A. Vaughn, 39, 5846 Washington Ave., Ashtabula. The four are expected to make their initial court appearances today, officials said.

The incident began around 6:30 p.m., when police stopped a suspicious vehicle that matched the description of a car that had dropped off a man — carrying a bag — last seen running into woods near the prison. Two men in the car said they were lost, police said. The men gave permission to a search of the car, which turned up nothing suspicious, officers said. The men were released.

Two hours later, another officer on patrol in the area of Woodworth Road saw a man with snow, mud and “plant debris” on his clothes walking on Shenango Street near the prison. When the man repeatedly ignored the officer’s questions, the officer made a move to apply handcuffs. The man spun around, shoved the handcuffs into the officer’s hand and ran away, according to a report.

The man eventually was caught at a self-service car wash a short distance away. Two men standing nearby told officers they didn’t see anyone run by. Police later found the fugitive and another man seated in a vehicle at the car wash. The fugitive, the man he was seated with in the vehicle and the two men who saw nothing unusual were arrested. Police recognized one of the men from the traffic stop earlier in the evening, according to a report.

The police officer suffered small lacerations to his wrist caused when he was jabbed with the handcuffs, according to a report.

Prior to Tuesday night’s event, four people were in city jail charged with trying to toss prohibited items — including cellular telephones and tobacco — onto the grounds of the prison. One man from Cleveland was bound over to the Ashtabula County grand jury earlier this week on charges he tried to felonies because he was caught with marijuana and crack cocaine outside the prison fence, police said.