Grandfather accused of gun threat at ballfield

By Ed Runyan

A Struthers coach said the armed man in Austintown threatened to shoot him.

AUSTINTOWN — A 64-year-old township man accused of pulling a handgun on a baseball coach Tuesday has been charged with aggravated menacing, police said.

The episode happened during an argument near the ball field where his grandson was playing.

Dallas D. Lough, of Westchester Drive, pleaded innocent to the first-degree misdemeanor Wednesday in County Court in Austintown. He remains free on bond. If convicted on the charge, he could get up to six months in jail.

Austintown police said Lough was attending a baseball game between PONY League teams of 13- and 14-year-olds from Austintown and Struthers at Koch Field on North Raccoon Road.

While his grandson was pitching, Lough was standing behind the backstop and being vocal enough to get a warning from the home-plate umpire to stop, police said.

The other umpire, who was positioned in the field, later told Lough that he had to leave the backstop area because he was being disruptive.

“He wasn’t being obnoxious, but he was talking every pitch,” Todd Shaffer of Austintown, the umpire who asked Lough to leave the backstop area, said by telephone Wednesday.

One of the things Lough was doing was making ball and strike calls before the home-plate umpire had a chance to make his call, Shaffer said.

Lough walked from the backstop toward Raccoon Road, where words were exchanged between Lough and one or more coaches from Struthers, police said.

One of the coaches, a 36-year-old Struthers man, told police he began talking with Lough down a hill from the field near the Struthers dugout, and Lough pulled a handgun out of his pants pocket and threatened to shoot him if he came any closer.

The coach yelled up to the field that Lough had a gun.

“I just told the kids to go to the dugouts until I could see what was going on,” Shaffer said.

Lough then walked to his car and drove south on Raccoon Road, where Austintown police arrested him at gunpoint. They said they recovered a loaded semi-automatic pistol from the waistband of Lough’s pants.

Lough had a valid concealed-carry permit in his wallet, police said.

Once Lough was apprehended, Shaffer asked the Struthers baseball players whether they wanted to continue the game, and they did. But the Struthers parents decided to end the game at that point, Shaffer said.

Shaffer said he has umpired dozens of games in recent years in which Lough has been present and he has never had to speak to him before about his behavior.

In eight years of umpiring, Shaffer said he’s never experienced anything like this. “I hope never to see anything like that again,” he added.

Lough is due back in court at 6 p.m. Sept. 15. He was released from the police department Tuesday evening after posting bond.

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