Struthers police say burglary involving gunfire exchange was a hoax
Homeowner charged with inducing panic, falsification, endangering children
Struthers police say burglary was a ruse
Police say last week’s burglary on West Lewis Street was a ruse, concocted by the homeowner to hide his accidentally shooting himself earlier that day.
As a result, police arrested Paul Trimacco, 31, on Tuesday for the Sept. 17 incident, charging him with inducing panic, falsification and endangering children, said Detective Jeff Lewis of the Struthers Police Department.
“He said somebody broke in,” Lewis said. “He freaked out everybody in the neighborhood.”
Lewis added that Trimacco confessed to making up the burglary story to explain how he actually shot himself while testing the credibility of his flak jacket, because he didn’t want his girlfriend to know the truth about his injuries. Trimacco said he’d been hit by a ricochet while shooting the jacket, and that he later fired several rounds in his basement — and blamed them on a burglar — to cover up the accident.
According to the police report, Trimacco had accidentally shot himself a few months prior to last week’s incident, too.
Officers from Struthers, Campbell and Poland Township responded to 34 W. Lewis St. at about 2:30 a.m. Sept. 17 after receiving reports of gunshots in the area.
When police arrived at the residence, they found Trimacco — with his face painted, and donning camouflage military fatigues and a helmet — walking around the backyard and carrying a gun.
Trimacco then told police that someone had broken into his residence, and that he had been shot a couple of times in an exchange of gunfire, which had occurred in his basement. He explained his apparel by telling police that someone had tried to break into his home the previous day, and that he had a feeling this person might attempt it again.
He said that he’d been waiting in his basement with the lights out for four hours before the alleged burglary took place. While taking a break upstairs with his girlfriend, Trimacco said he heard loud noises coming from the basement, then told his girlfriend to hide with his 9-year-old son in the attic.
Trimacco told police that shots began to fly once he went back into the basement, and that he remembers returning gunfire.
He was treated at St. Elizabeth Health Center for a gunshot wound to his hip and for a cut on his arm from “trying to fake the break-in,” Lewis said, adding that police took all firearms from Trimacco’s house as evidence. Police also noted that Trimacco confessed to having his dog tags made online, and that he’d never actually been in the Army.
Trimacco’s arraignment is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday in Struthers Municipal Court.