No injuries in 5-hour hostage standoff at Trumbull jail

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3 inmates took corrections officer as hostage

By Ed Runyan


After five hours, three Trumbull County jail inmates gave up their hostage, a corrections officer, and were returned to custody about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The officer was not injured.

The three inmates are in jail on serious criminal charges, one of them facing the possibility of the death penalty in a Warren homicide. Another recently was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

They took the officer hostage at 3:30 p.m. as he was making his rounds on the fourth floor.

The officer was held against his will in the common area with a homemade knife through much of the ordeal, Sheriff Thomas Altiere said during a press conference.

The inmates were going to be transported to another facility Wednesday night, and charges related to the standoff may be filed as early as today.

“The hostage negotiator did a fantastic job,” Sheriff Altiere said of Lt. Jeff Cole of the Warren Police Department, who also had assistance from other negotiators.

The inmate facing the death penalty is David Martin, who is charged in a 2012 Warren homicide.

Martin told a corrections officer in February that when he goes on trial, he will grab a gun from a courthouse security officer because “I’m not going to death row.”

Personnel with the sheriff’s office were alerted at the time to be extra cautious with Martin.

The two other inmates are Kevin Johns and Richard Ware. Martin, 29, of Cleveland, is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 27 in the killing of Jeremy Cole, 21, and the wounding of Melissa Putnam, 27, at Putnam’s Oak Street Southwest home.

Martin already received a 22-year prison term in federal court in October for a Warren gun crime.

Altiere said the three inmates were in the same common area when the male corrections officer passed through the area. One of the inmates grabbed the officer from the front, another from behind.

“The way it went down, they were planning it,” Altiere said.

They got the officer’s handcuffs and cellphone, and at least one of the inmates was using the phone to contact people, Altiere said. The officer was not carrying a gun.

About 100 law-enforcement officers were deployed, and help came from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, FBI and various other agencies.

Johns, 24, of Warren and Cincinnati, was sentenced to the maximum of 28 years in prison April 15 after being convicted at trial of rape and kidnapping.

Ware, 27, of Warren, has a current list of charges that includes about 10 counts of aggravated robbery, plus many more counts of aggravated menacing and receiving stolen property.

Altiere said the inmates used bedsheets tied into knots to secure the door to the common area to prevent officers from getting inside. The three inmates and the corrections officer were the only four people in that common area when the situation occurred.

Shortly after Warren police arrived, they called for a hostage negotiator. Throughout the evening, dozens of police cars remained around the jail with parts of Park Avenue and Harmon Street closed to regular traffic.

Police kept a sizable crowd away from the jail. Hundreds of people stood on the High Street and Park Avenue areas around the jail.

Among those watching were Wanda Cole, mother of Jeremy Cole, and other Cole relatives.

“As far as I’m concerned, he shot and murdered my son,” she said of Martin. “What it was over, I don’t know. I think it’s crazy. If they have to take him out, then take him out. Nobody else deserves to die for his stupidity.”

While the hostage situation unfolded, the other inmates were on lockdown, Altiere said.

The three didn’t appear to be asking for anything specific during the situation, Altiere said, noting that they did ask for cigarettes.

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