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CAMPBELL Officers, suspect struggle for gun



Published: Thu, March 7, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Officers had bite wounds, were doused with pepper spray and received other injuries during the struggle.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CAMPBELL -- A request for police backup in the search for a robbery suspect ended in an all-out struggle, with officers from three departments fighting at close range to pull a gun from the suspect's grasp.

Campbell police received a backup request from Youngstown police around 3:20 p.m. Wednesday to help find a 22-year-old Struthers man suspected of robbing a woman of about $300 from Check 'N' Go Mini Mart on Wilson Avenue in Youngstown.

Campbell officers said they spotted the man on Penhale Street near 12th Street and began a foot chase.

Police said the man collided with Officer Laura Phillips, and Phillips wrestled him to the ground. A struggle began, and Officer Kenneth Arendas assisted.

Struggle for gun: During the struggle, police said, Phillips felt her holster come unstrapped, after which the man said, "I'm going to kill you" and pulled the weapon away, the police report says.

Phillips and Arendas struggled to control the man and weapon, and Phillips was struck in the right temple.

Police said Phillips saw the barrel of the gun pointed at her, with the suspect's finger on the trigger, and she lost her grip on the gun. She then pushed the man onto his chest to pin him on the weapon.

Bitten: The report says the man bit Arendas in the hand as he tried to grab the gun.

Willie Seay, a Mahoning County deputy sheriff, and Lt. Alan Morris, from the Coitsville police, joined the struggle after a request for assistance. Seay was struck in the face during the struggle.

Morris threatened to use pepper spray on the suspect if he didn't relinquish the gun. Police said Morris sprayed the suspect in the face.

At least two other officers and Campbell Police Chief Gus Sarigianopoulos arrived. Sarigianopoulos used an expandable baton to pull back the suspect's left arm, but they didn't find the gun.

Officer Mitchell Zupko from Campbell then was able to pry the weapon from the suspect's right hand.

Police said the scene was cleared around 4:30 p.m. after medics arrived to treat officers who were affected by the pepper spray.

Seay injured a finger, which he had jammed behind the gun's trigger, to keep it from firing.

The man was treated at St. Elizabeth Health Center under police guard.

He is in the city jail and is scheduled for arraignment Friday morning in Campbell Municipal Court.

wheatley@vindy.com




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