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YOUNGSTOWN In cold pursuit: Footprints in snow lead officers to suspect



Published: Tue, January 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Police followed the footprints and came upon a man who was soaked and cold.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- If there hadn't been snow on the ground, police couldn't have followed a burglary suspect's footprints -- for 31/2 hours.

The foot pursuit began at 1:25 a.m. Monday after a break-in at Rent-A-Center on McCartney Road. Patrolman Brian Butler saw a man run north from the rear of the East Side store carrying a crowbar.

Patrolmen Kevin Mercer and Robert Giovanni were sent to the store to assist in the pursuit.

In pursuit: Butler had noticed pry marks on the rear door at Rent-A-Center and fresh footprints leading to the door, then to a hole in the fence. He and Patrolman Patrick Mulligan started tracking the footprints and found the crowbar in a trash bin in the 100 block of Gluck Street.

The trail led Butler and Mulligan, now joined by officers Brent Gaitanis and Jerry Fulmer, to 12th Street in Campbell, where two of its officers joined in the pursuit. From there, the footp8rints headed back to the East Side -- toward Oak Street Extension and Jacobs Road.

From his cruiser, Youngstown Patrolman Randall Miller spotted the suspect running toward McKelvey Lake.

Mulligan found two coats that had been tossed on the shoreline.

More Youngstown officers -- Michael Cox, Brian Booksing and Curt Hileman -- joined the pursuit. About 4:50 a.m. Monday, the prints led police up the steps and to the porch of 2552 Cornwall St.

The resident of the Cornwall house said the other occupants were his 7-year-old son and 29-year-old cousin, Israel B. Lopez Jr. The officers asked to speak to Lopez.

Suspect's condition: Mercer, in his report, described Lopez as very wet and tired, breathing hard and having a red face with a large scrape on it.

Lopez, of South Truesdale Avenue, was charged with breaking and entering and possession of criminal tools.

He appeared for arraignment Monday in municipal court. The magistrate set bond at $15,000 cash or surety, and a preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 11.

When arrested, Lopez told the officers that he was very cold and could not breathe. They called for an ambulance, and he received medical attention.

The resident of the house, meanwhile, had consented to a search. Officers found Lopez's boots, socks, work pants and a pair of thermal pants hidden between the mattress and box spring of a bed, reports show.

All the clothing was wet -- wet enough to leave marks on the box spring and underside of the mattress, police said. The officers have requested that the clothing be tested for the suspect's hair, blood and fiber evidence.

The officers took 13 pictures of the footprints they had followed.

meade@vindy.com




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