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Charges mount for church vandalism suspect

Caleb Vancampen in court Monday morning.

YOUNGSTOWN — Caleb Vancampen is now charged in the Feb. 19 assault of a police officer at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, in addition to the destruction of 16 statues at the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church early Feb. 26.

At a hearing Monday in Youngstown Municipal Court, Vancampen, 20, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault. Judge Renee DiSalvo ordered that Vancampen be evaluated to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on felony vandalism and misdemeanor assault.

Vancampen’s attorney, David Gerchak, requested the evaluation.

Robert Martin, assistant chief of the Mercy Health Police Department, said Vancampen assaulted a Mercy Health officer twice as Vancampen tried to leave the hospital after being brought there to evaluate his mental health. He also shoved a nurse while leaving the emergency room.

A second officer assisted outside of the hospital, and they brought Vancampen back in to continue Vancampen’s treatment. He was later transferred to another facility, Martin said.

He was not transferred because of the assault. A transfer typically occurs because another facility has a bed available where the patient can go, Martin said.

Assault charges are not typically filed while a person is in a hospital, so that is the reason filing of charges against Vancampen was delayed, Martin said. Martin filed the assault charge in Youngstown Municipal Court Friday, while Vancampen was in the Mahoning County jail on the vandalism charge.

Youngstown police sent Vancampen to the hospital by ambulance for a mental-health evaluation Feb. 19 after Vancampen is alleged to have punched a teen boy in the parking lot of the Western Reserve Transit Authority bus station on West Federal Street.

The victim, 17, of New Springfield, said he was not injured and did not want to press charges but only wanted Vancampen to “get help,” a police report states.

The victim said Vancampen walked up to him as the victim was getting off of a bus. Vancampen was “talking gibberish,” according to the victim, who said Vancampen said: “People are throwing blue salt on him.” Then Vancampen hit the victim in the face. The victim found an off-duty officer working security and reported the incident.

When a patrol officer arrived, Vancampen told him he didn’t know his name or where he lives or other information.

The officer called for an ambulance for Vancampen, who eventually provided his real name and Social Security number and said he “needs help,” the report states.

Because Judge DiSalvo ordered a competency evaluation, it prevented Vancampen’s preliminary hearing on the felony from taking place and keeps the case in municipal court. Vancampen was arraigned last week on the felony.

While he awaits his evaluation, Vancampen will remain in the Mahoning County jail without eligibility to make bond. Judge DiSalvo ordered him to have no contact with the officer he is accused of assaulting.

Vancampen also is charged with misdemeanor theft of items from vehicles parked along Commerce Street early Feb. 25. Vancampen had an East Palestine address, but he was staying at the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley at the time of the statue vandalism and is considered homeless.

An entry in Vancampen’s theft case states that he is from Kentucky.

The price to replace the 14 destroyed fiberglass statues and two damaged granite statues has not yet been determined, Youngstown police detectives said Monday.

erunyan@tribtoday.com

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