WARREN,Ohio (WKBN) – Authorities have confirmed that a hostage situation at the Trumbull County Jail ended without injuries just before 9 p.m.
Trumbull County Sheriff Tom Altiere said the incident began at 3:13 p.m. He said the corrections officer, who is in his 30s,was doing his rounds when three inmates grabbed him from behind, grabbed his radio and phone. The officer is not being identified.
The inmates involved are 29-year-old David Martin, 27-year-old Richard Ware and 24-year-old Kevin Johns. Martin is from the Cleveland/Akron area and faces a murder charge in the death of Jeremy Cole.
Authorities arrested Martin on a charge of illegally possessing a weapon after he sold an assault rifle to an undercover federal agent in 2012. A jury at the U.S. Northern District Court in Akron found him guilty on that charge in June 2013, unrelated to the case in which Martin is accused of breaking into a Warren home and shooting Cole in September 2012.
Martin was sentenced to almost 22 years in prison on the weapons charge.
Wanda Cole, mother of Jeremy Cole, had this to say when she found out one of the hostage takers was Martin:
“I thought maybe he would probably hurt one of the inmates or whoever he’s got in there so he can try to escape, to get out, so he can run free.”
A jury recently convicted Johns on charges of rape and kidnapping. He was sentenced last week to 28 years in prison.
Ware is being held in the jail on aggravated robbery charges in connection with a December 18 event in which he allegedly held up a CVS Pharmacy in Warren. His pre-trial is scheduled for May 20.
Altiere confirmed that the inmates wound up sheets around the door and tied them around a table to prevent the door from being opened.
There were more than 100 law enforcement officials at the scene, including the FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Mahoning County Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force, U.S. Marshals, Warren police, Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office and Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.
The main hostage negotiator was Warren Police Lt. Jeff Cole.
Barbara Stother was outside the jail when the situation first happened. She was walking down the street, having just left the Warren SCOPE Center.
“I think it’s horrible. I think all this violence and stuff needs to stop. Because it’s ridiculous. And I hope and pray whoever they’re taking out of there is still alive. I just don’t like all this violence,” Strother said.
Heidi Wilkinson was in a parked truck with her friend just outside the jail when police told them to quickly get out of the truck, explaining the inmates could escape the jail, then hold a gun to her to get her truck to escape.
“The cops came and said ‘can you please get out of the truck and park and take your keys because it’s not under control?’ He said if it goes bad, they could come and take my truck,” Wilkinson said.
Altiere said the inmates will be transported to other facilities tonight, but it is unknown where they will be taken and if they all will be taken to the same place.
Altiere said one inmate had a shank, but no other weapons.
The sheriff said the situation remained relatively calm and did not become life-threatening. He said the inmates had no demands other than asking for cigarettes.
It is believed the incident was planned ahead of time. The motive is not yet clear, but Altiere said investigators will do exit interviews with the the inmates before they are transferred to try and determine why that officer was targeted.
Once the investigation is complete, it will be handed over to the prosecutor to determine what charges will be filed.
Altiere said there is not a security issue at the jail and all protocol was followed. He said corrections officers are not armed and they make rounds alone inside the pods, with someone monitoring security screens at a central location.