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Police charge store owner with shooting at suspect



Published: Wed, February 12, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Police characterized the fleeing suspect as a 'sitting duck.'

& lt;a href=mailto:yovich@vindy.com & gt;By TIM YOVICH & lt;/a & gt;

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- A store owner faces charges linked to gunshots fired on a theft suspect Monday.

Capt. Frank Bigowsky charged Fortunato Simeone of West Liberty Street on Tuesday with discharging a firearm in the city limits, negligent assault and menacing, all misdemeanors.

Simeone, owner of Towne Centre Liquor, Lottery and Beverage at 816 N. State St., has been summoned to appear in municipal court Feb. 25.

Police said Simeone is charged with taking at least one shot at Lowell L. Jones, 40, of Blane Street, Warren, after he fled the store.

Jones and James W. Daniels Jr., 51, of Third Street, Warren, have both been charged with the theft of four bottles of cognac from the store Monday morning.

Jones and Daniels both have criminal records and are on probation, free on their own recognizance.

"If he [Simeone] was one of my officers, he'd be on administrative leave facing disciplinary action or dismissal," Bigowsky said. "This type of vigilantism we don't need."

Simeone didn't return messages left at his business or home.

Chief's account

Bigowksy alleged that Jones and Daniels went into the store and that Daniels took the liquor to their car. He was caught by Simeone.

When Jones emerged from Towne Centre, the captain said, he was confronted by Simeone, who put a handgun to Jones' head.

Jones fled, and Simeone went looking for him in his car, Bigowsky explained. Simeone spotted Jones inside Frankford Bicycle Inc. at 964 N. State St., got out of his car and chased him through the bicycle shop, police said.

Simeone eventually cornered Jones in a guard shack at the former Ohio Leather Works, police said.

Bigowsky said Jones, who was unarmed, told him that Simeone fired three shots at him while he was running away. Police found one spent cartridge, and Jones had a bullet hole in his pant leg. Bigowsky characterized Jones as a "sitting duck."

Bigowsky said that he appreciates zeal, but "there's no need for citizens to get that involved."

"It could be imposing the death penalty for stealing four bottles of liquor," Bigowsky said.




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