Two suspects in Liberty standoff appear in court, one remains at large



The man and woman arrested Sunday on charges after a hostage situation at a township residence appeared in Girard Municipal Court on Monday.

Sandra M. Pavelko-Smith, 47, of Youngstown, was the only one of the two to be arraigned, however, as Kenneth E. Macek, 68, also of Youngstown, wanted his attorney to be present.

Pavelko-Smith was charged with numerous crimes — among them, aggravated burglary, felonious assault and kidnapping — and remains in the Trumbull County Jail on $125,000 bond, 10 percent cash or surety. She will appear again in Girard Municipal Court at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Dale M. Thompson Sr. and Dale M. Thompson Jr., victims of the hostage situation who also were found to have outstanding warrants, were arraigned Monday as well.

Bond for the elder Thompson was set at $2,500, 10 percent cash or surety, and he will appear in court again May 29 for a probation-violation hearing. The younger Thompson, whose bond also was set at $2,500, 10 percent cash or surety, is set to appear in court June 4 for a pretrial hearing on charges of failure to comply and obstructing official business.

The other suspect in the hostage situation, 35-year-old Ralph W. Smith Jr. of Youngstown, remains at large. Liberty police filed an affidavit for Smith’s arrest Monday, said Capt. Toby Meloro, the lead negotiator during the standoff.

“I’m sure within a week or so, we’ll pick him up somewhere, ... or he’ll turn himself him,” Meloro said. “We’ll get him. It’s just a matter of time.”

Officers from the Liberty Police Department responded to a residence in the 3100 block of Hadley Avenue about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, after receiving a report of an armed woman having forced her way into the home. A woman hiding in the basement contacted Liberty police, who were assisted by a number of area police departments, including Girard, Warren and Youngstown.

The situation lasted about three hours, said Liberty Police Chief Richard Tisone, and ended after the suspects released the eight people being held hostage, including a 4-year-old girl. Though Smith had fled the scene, Pavelko-Smith and Macek were taken into custody.

According to the police report, the incident stemmed from a dispute over a car, which the suspects said had been stolen from them. The car in question was found in the parking lot of a nearby business and towed.

Victims told police that the suspects had taken their cellphones from them so they couldn’t contact the police, and that Pavelko-Smith had pointed her gun at victims’ heads, threatening to kill all of them. Pavelko-Smith reportedly struck one of the victims, a 40-year-old woman, in the head with the gun at least a dozen times, but she did not require medical treatment.

The only other injury reported was to Pavelko-Smith, who was bitten by a pit bull at the residence. Pavelko-Smith received medical care at St. Elizabeth Health Center, where suspected heroin and crack cocaine were found on her; she also was charged with drug possession.

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