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Hostage-holder saga recounted



Published: Wed, July 18, 2007 @ 2:24 p.m.

LIBERTY — A   nine-hour standoff between police and an armed man at the Holiday Inn Metroplex here ended today with blast of tear gas and a shirtless man forcibly placed into a waiting township police car.

Bobby Mock, 40, no address given, was taken into custody just after 10:30 a.m. He was rushed out a side door of the hotel, shirtless, in handcuffs and screaming that police had lied and had threatened his life.

According to Liberty Police Capt. Richard Tisone, the standoff began when officers arrived at the hotel to pick up Mock and Brian Simione, 33. Det. Sgt. John Kelty, Youngstown police, said both men were wanted in connection with an attempted ATM theft at St. Elizabeth Health Center and burglaries in the area.

Tisone said officers were able to grab Simione out of the room, but Mock, who he said was armed with two handguns, slammed the door barricading himself and a woman in the room.

Police later identified the woman as Melissa Simione, wife of Brian Simione. Melissa Simione is the daughter of Mock’s half brother.

Mock, Kelty said, made a variety demands such as asking for soft drinks and to speak with a woman, whose name officers did not know, in the Portage County Jail. Mock, he said, threatened to harm his hostage and himself. He said officers attempted to negotiate with Mock, but said Mock would not give in to any of the negotiators request, leading negotiations to break down.

According to Kelty, Mock eventually fell asleep allowing the hostage to escape. She was taken into the township police department for questioning.

“Once she escaped that changed everything. That was to our advantage,” he said.

An officer stationed on the roof of the hotel shot seven to eight cans of tear gas into the fourth floor room where Mock had taken refuge. More gas was sprayed underneath the door.

Officers say Mock surrendered a short time after the gas was used.

Det. Robin Lees, Youngstown police, said Mock has an extensive criminal record, including a history of thefts and breaking and entering across the area, and many of the officers from the five responding police departments were familiar with him. He said officers believe Mock was under the influence of some type of narcotic drug.

It is unclear what charges Mock and Simione will face related to the standoff.

They face a number of charges in Youngstown where police had secured warrants for their arrests Tuesday for their alleged involvement in the attempted theft Monday of an ATM machine from the lobby of St. Elizabeth Health Center on Belmont Avenue.

Additional warrants were secured by Youngstown police for Mock’s arrest in connection with the theft of an ATM from the Cornersburg Sparkle Market on South Meridian Road on July 5.

Someone used a pickup truck stolen from Boardman Saturn to smash into the Sparkle Market around 7:30 p.m. July, 4 but the would-be thief or thieves didn’t get the ATM machine at that point.

However, the police believe they returned at 6 a.m. July 5 and successfully stole the machine.

The machine, minus the money it contained, was later found in the Brandywine Apartments complex and Mock was linked to the crime, Youngstown police said.

Warrants were issued for two counts of breaking and entering, two counts of felony theft, two counts of felony receiving stolen property and one count of safecracking against Mock in that case.

Warrants for Mock were also secured in the St. Elizabeth case Tuesday on one count of felony receiving stolen property, one count of felony burglary, one count of felony fleeing and eluding, two counts of felony assault on a police officer and one count of felony possession of criminal tools.

Warrants for Simione issued Tuesday in the St. Elizabeth case showed one count of felony burglary and one count of felony possession of criminal tools.

A third person is still being sought in that case.

Police searched for Mock at various locations in the city Tuesday but were unable to find him.

Youngstown expected to be able to arraign the two men on all charges Thursday. The standoff generated a lot of attention in the Belmont Avenue area with many people stopping to see what was happening at the hotel.

Scott Richards of Austintown has known Mock since junior high school — Mock even served as best man at his wedding. He heard about the incident on the radio and headed to the hotel to see if he could help talk Mock out of the room, but police did not permit him to try.

“He usually listens when I talk so I thought I could say something to get him out. He is a good kid, just went down the wrong path,” he said.

Most rooms in the hotel were evacuated leaving some guests out in the parking lot or milling around the lobby area of the hotel.

Connie Powell, Ebensburg, Pa., was roused out of bed just after 3 a.m. and asked to follow the advice of a security officer at her hotel room door. She grabbed her cell phone, purse and some shoes before heading out the door.

“I came from Pa. into Ohio for only a couple of days to handle some family stuff, that isn’t going to happen now,” she said.

Two hotel guests from London, England, said they had just checked into their room when police knocked at their door and directed them to get dressed and report to the lobby immediately.

Vijai Dave’ and his son, Dominic, said they were in town to attend the wedding of Vijai’s nephew, Piyush Shukla, also of London, to a local woman, Monica Garg of Youngstown, Saturday at the Metroplex.

“We didn’t arrive until half past 2 (a.m.),” Vijai Dave’ said.   His son said they had just unpacked and gone to bed when police came to their third-floor door and advised them to go to the lobby.

They and other guests wandered around inside and outside the hotel as the stand-off continued.

Other family members were due to arrive from out of town later Thursday and Friday for the wedding, Vijai Dave’ said.

The trip turned out to be “a real adventure in Youngstown,” he said.


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