Melee at Harding brings charges, complaints

By Ed Runyan

Five complaints have been written to the Warren Police Department over the incident.

WARREN — Police have filed several juvenile charges against two Warren G. Harding High School students they say refused to cooperate with officers during a Tuesday afternoon fight and are consulting with juvenile prosecutors on charges against others.

The police department released a report Thursday on the 2:15 p.m. melee, which a bystander said involved as many as 400 youths, about 50 of whom were fighting.

The incident began with a vehicle pulling into the school parking lot near the main entrance on Elm Road, a nonstudent getting out of the car and confronting a student, and a fight ensuing.

Frank Tempesta, a former Warren policeman now working for the school district, arrested the student and ordered two men from the vehicle to get back into the car.

Another juvenile then took off his shirt, wrapped it around his hand and punched out the windows on one side of the car, police said.

Tempesta then attempted to get control of that juvenile, but the juvenile would not comply for Tempesta or Warren police Officer Tim Brown, who came to assist Tempesta, as a group of students began to surround Tempesta, the report said.

The second juvenile yelled obscenities at Brown and refused to comply even after Brown used a stun gun on him, police said. The second juvenile was eventually placed in a cruiser.

At the request of Brown, other officers went to the scene to assist and encountered a third juvenile who refused to leave the school property, they said. The third juvenile cursed at officers and refused to be taken into custody. So an officer used a stun gun on him and eventually placed him in a cruiser.

In the middle of that, Tempesta’s holster and gun were “ripped off his gun belt,” and his weapon was on the ground a short time before a Warren officer spotted it and secured it.

Additional fights took place in about five “pockets” in the school parking lot and across Elm Road in a vacant restaurant parking lot, police said.

The parents of the second and third juvenile filed citizen complaints against Tempesta and Brown the next day, saying they didn’t like the way the situation was handled. Three additional complaints have also been filed, said Sgt. Jeff Cole, internal- affairs officer with the Warren Police Department.

The complaint filed by Janet Grossbeck of Hamilton Street Southwest, parent of the third juvenile, said the “entire situation was completely out of control.”

Grossbeck said her son was “smashed to the ground, injuring his right side of face on cheek/eye area” after he refused to “move on.”

Grossbeck said her son was described as having convulsions and shaking “all over the ground” during the altercation.

“I was also told in the meantime that as all of this was going on, there had been an officer who had lost his weapon ... apparently they thought [her son] could have had it. At this point, [her son] was rolled in a fetal position,” she said, and an officer was still using his stun gun on him.

“He’s being Tazed, how can he comply?” Grossbeck wrote.

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