Robbery and chase suspect arraigned in court

Robbery and chase suspect arraigned in court

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A Youngstown man will spend his 29th birthday next week in Mahoning County jail on myriad charges stemming from a police chase earlier this week unless he can post a $150,000 bond.

Sergio F. Gonzalez Jr., 28, of South Garland Avenue, appeared for video arraignment Wednesday afternoon before magistrate Anthony Sertick of Youngstown Municipal Court, but he did not say a word during the hearing, allowing his attorney, Thomas Zena, to speak on his behalf.

Gonzalez is charged with aggravated robbery, failure to comply with a police order, drug abuse and felonious assault.

Zena did not address or dispute the issue of bond at the arraignment. He said he would speak to that matter at a later court hearing.

Police arrested Gonzalez after a 3:30 a.m. Sunday incident that included police following car tracks and footprints in the snow to capture him and the recovery of an assault rifle and a handgun.

A 34-year-old victim from Canfield said he heard about four gunshots while driving west on U.S. Route 422, then a gold Honda side-swiped his car and pulled alongside it, with the front-seat passenger of the Honda pointing an assault rifle out of its window.

The Honda hit the victim’s vehicle from behind, causing the victim’s car to spin out into the grass beside the road. Police began their pursuit immediately after the victim ran to a police car he saw nearby to report the incident.

The victim frantically told the nearby officer that someone was firing shots at him.

The officer, Curt Hileman, saw a man believed to be Gonzalez running from behind a church, holding a handgun.

Hileman drew his handgun and ordered the suspect to the ground, but the suspect kept running, entered a Pontiac Grand Am, and fled east on Oak Street with Hileman in pursuit.

Hileman lost sight of the Grand Am but followed the tracks it left in the snow, finding it parked, running, unoccupied and locked at Rigby and Pearl streets, with a handgun on its front seat.

Police then followed fresh footprints in the snow from the car to Gonzalez’s residence, where they arrested him, confiscated items of his clothing, a pill bottle, a pill believed to be Ectasy, $1,944 and two wallets.

Another victim, a 20-year-old Campbell man, who came upon the crash scene and asked if anyone there needed help, positively identified Gonzalez as the man who hit him on the back of his head with a handgun and fled in his Grand Am.

Mahoning County court records show Gonzalez has been arrested in the past for improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and another time for violation of a protective order.

Kathleen Thompson, an assistant city prosecutor, said Gonzalez also has arrests for aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct. He has also missed several court dates, she said.

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