Category Archives: Police & Fire
An investigation continues in reference to Monday’s fire, confirmed as arson, at My House bar.
According to the report, Ellwood City police, along with several fire departments, arrived on the scene at approximately 4:41AM on Dec. 2, and noticed a large amount of thick smoke coming from the roof of the condemned building.
Police met with the Pennsylvania State Police Department Fire Marshal, who took photos of the charred area. The officer explained that, while on patrol an hour prior to the fire, he noticed two white males wearing all black walking down Fourth St. by the bar.
Surveillance tape also shows a suspicious older white man walking around the building and looking into windows 15 minutes before the fire started. Police believe he possibly took pictures with the camera on his cell phone.
Investigators took several items from the basement, and sent to them to a lab as samples.
No arrests have been made at this time.
Simple Assault and Domestic Violence
Officers arrested an Ellwood City man on Sunday night after he violently attacked his wife and mother-in-law.
According to the report, Coltin Wayne Gardner, 21, of 115 Fountain Ave. #2, engaged in a violent dispute with his wife inside their home. After a verbal altercation, the man threw hot wax and a pot of hot grease on his wife, then shoved her into the kitchen.
During a half-hour long fight, the accused continuously punched and stuck the victim. She then went outside to inform her mother, who sat in a vehicle outside the residence, of the situation. When the two went back into the residence, Gardner again began to punch his wife. Then, his mother-in-law sprayed him with mace, which prompted the accused to repeatedly punch her and throw her into a window.
Police arrived on the scene at approximately 7:30PM, and arrested Gardner.
The accused faces charges of simple assault and domestic violence.
- A narcotics complaint was made by a witness on the 200 block of Line Ave. The witness explained that a lot of drug activity continuously occurred at a neighbor’s residence. A lot of people entered and exited the home, and a large suburban drove up and down an alley within the vicinity.
- A Burglary occurred at 720 Lawrence Ave., Apt. 7. The victim explained that someone put shaving cream all over his door, and forcefully entered his room. Missing items: Four Steelers cups, six angel figurines, $15 in change, and a shaving kit with numerous bathroom items. A witness noticed two women entering the room earlier in the day.
- A theft was reported at 514 Ellwood Ave. at approximately 7:30PM. The victim claimed that someone stole a Nexus Tablet worth $60 from a package off of the porch on Nov. 26.
- A car accident occurred at approximately 1:28PM. Mary Ann Cearfoss, 78, of 220 Hazen Ave., was traveling South on 5th St. when she lost control of her silver 2000 Honda Accord and hit a legally parked car. She hit an open door on the driver side as the driver of the parked car was attempting to exit the vehicle. Both cars incurred damage, but no injuries were reported.
- A theft occurred at 508 Todd Ave. The residents returned home at approximately 9PM to find jewelry and cash missing from a jewelry box. A friend was staying at the residence while the owners were away, and he invited his girlfriend over. Missing items: 3 Pandora chains with 120 charms worth approximately $3,000, and $380 cash. The friend’s girlfriend, who is said to have a drug problem, is the prime suspect.
Wampum Borough will receive a $506,651 PennWorks grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, according to Senator Elder Vogel.
The borough will use the money to offset part of the costs to replace its existing 529,000-gallon water storage tank with a 750,000-gallon tank. The increased water capacity will provide the necessary water service for a planned expansion by Universal Refractories, Inc., which includes the anticipated creation of 21 full-time jobs.
“This grant helps Wampum in several ways. First, the grant helps defer some of the burden on water system ratepayers to replace a deteriorated storage tank that is cracked and leaking,” Senator Vogel said. “In turn, the increased water capacity will spur economic growth and job creation in the community. That is a great investment in the community.”
According to reports, the fire started at approximately 4:45AM at My House Bar at 403 Lawrence Ave. Multiple fire departments received calls to put out the flames, which continued on for several hours.
Police and firefighters evacuated two residents in neighboring apartments, but no injuries were reported.
My House Bar, formerly known as the Oasis, was condemned in early October after a code inspection revealed the building as “uninhabitable,” citing a faulty electrical system as a potential fire hazard. Though, no reports of an electrical fire exist at this time.
No further information is available pertaining to the cause of the fire.
A New Castle man faces four charges in conjunction with a series of burglaries in January.
Police say that Burnell Williams, 50, of 425 East Reynolds St. in New Castle, went on a crime spree and stopped in Ellwood City on Jan. 29.
According to the report, a witness saw the accused pull up to 200 13th St. at approximately 3PM with a female accomplice, Melinda Pounds of 104 13th St., and leave ten minutes later in a greenish 4-door sedan with its windows open. The car’s front license plate showed the letters, “PVC.”
The homeowner later found her door kicked in, and several items missing from the house, including: A 50-inch Panasonic flat screen television, a small flat screen television from her kitchen, and a safe from her bedroom.
On the same day, New Castle police responded to a call at 925 Moravia St. Officers found a car fitting the same description blocking off an alley. Someone reported the vehicle stolen around 1:15PM from Cranberry Township. While waiting for a tow truck, police noticed a safe in the backseat of the car.
During that investigation, Cranberry police responded to another crime involving the same vehicle: Retail theft turned into a stolen car. A different vehicle was stolen from Rite Aid in Cranberry Township earlier in the day, and surveillance tape revealed three suspects plus the car blocking the alley at the scene. New Castle police found the owner of the car blocking the alley, and she identified the man who took it as her boyfriend, Paul Druschel, 41, of New Castle. The man received several retail theft charges in years prior.
After the tape confirmed Druschel’s identity at the scene of the crime, police interviewed him on May 10. According to that interview, the accused and Pounds wanted to head to Walmart in Cranberry Township to commit more retail theft after Rite Aid.
Cranberry police pulled Williams’ phone records, which confirmed him to be in Cranberry during the retail theft, 13th St. in Ellwood City during the home invasion, and New Castle when the vehicle was dropped off.
Druschel said that Williams and Pounds also had a large television for sale. He left Rite Aid out of fear because the manager confronted them. Since Druschel fled with the vehicle, the accused and Pounds stole the Rite Aid manager’s car and drove away from the scene. Officers pulled J-Net photos of Williams and Pounds which confirmed them as the car thieves.
In a later interview with Pounds, she incriminated herself and Williams. She said she knew of several televisions in the 13th St. residence, and that no one was home. Williams kicked the door in, and grabbed the two televisions along with the safe. He claimed to know a person in the New Castle projects that purchased TVs for $200, so they sold them. Also, the two opened the safe, but nothing inside contained significant value.
Police put a warrant out for Williams’ arrest on Nov. 6.
Overall, items stolen held over $2,000 of worth.
Williams faces two counts of burglary, as well as two counts of theft by deception.
The man suspected of committing homicide on Loop St. Saturday morning faces charges for separate gun-related incidents in Ellwood City.
Police arrested Leon Platt, 26, of 474 Oregon Ave. in Rochester, for a firing a weapon into a residential area on two different occasions.
According to the report, the first incident occurred on Nov. 11 at approximately 10:46PM. Platt arrived on Fox St. with two others in a white car. The female driver of the vehicle parked at the end of the road, while the accused and another male approached 1585 Fox St. with a loaded gun.
Once at the residence, Platt fired several shots into the home with the .45 automatic pistol. A witness inside the home reported that he heard the shots and grabbed a shotgun. When he went outside, the victim noticed two males running down the driveway and identified one as Platt. He also recognized the driver in the white car, but failed to identify the other male.
The witness believes that Platt shot at the house because another resident stole 1/2 pound of marijuana from the accused. He and another witness also mentioned that Platt called the home and stated that he planned to shoot up the house every time he came to Ellwood City.
Seven people, including a toddler and an infant, were inside the residence at the time.
During a taped confession, Platt admitted to shooting bullets into the home. Police found four .45 casings in the muddy driveway, and noticed four holes in the siding near the rear entrance.
Platt’s preliminary arraignment occurred this morning at 10:15. He faces charges of aggravated assault, discharging of a firearm into an occupied structure, reckless endangerment of another person, and criminal mischief: Damage to property.
The second incident occurred on Nov. 16 at approximately12:59AM, as police arrived at the 1200 block of Lawrence Ave to investigate shots fired into two vehicles and an apartment.
According to the report, Platt, along with a 17-year-old female, exited their vehicle and “unloaded” seven rounds of bullets. A resident explained that bullets entered her apartment through the front window and narrowly missed her. The bullets also damaged two vehicles within the vicinity.
Platt fired a .45 automatic pistol, while the female shot from a 9mm pistol. Richard Hogue, 28, of New Castle, PA, rode along with the two suspects at the time of the shooting.
Less than one hour later, Police arrived at 411 Loop St. at approximately 1:47AM to investigate another shooting. This time, they found Hogue, who endured a bullet wound to his abdomen. The man later passed away in the Ellwood City Hospital emergency room.
A short time later, officers located two handguns along the road of the 900 block of Skyline Dr. They believe one of them was used to murder Hogue.
Platt faces charges of possession of a firearm, firearm not to be carried without a license, and recklessly endangering another person(s).
Police are continuing to investigate the homicide.
Platt’s preliminary arraignment occurred this morning at 10:15. A preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 27 at 9:30AM before Judge Jerry Cartwright, Jr.
The accused is being held at the Lawrence County Jail on two separate $100,000 bonds.
Police continue to investigate a shooting that occurred at 411 Loop St. on Saturday morning.
One suspect remains in custody after a shot fired at approximately 2AM killed 28-year-old Richard Hogue of Enon Valley. The bullet hit Hogue in the abdomen, and he died shortly after his arrival at Ellwood City Hospital.
According to reports, the suspect, a male, in custody was picked up for unrelated charges, while another suspect remains at large. No information about his identity or condition has been released at this time.
He is currently being held on $100,000 bond at Lawrence County Jail.
Driving Under the Influence
An Ellwood City man faces DUI charges after police pulled him over for failing to use a turn signal on Nov. 10.
According to the report, Frank R. Lagana, 58, of 269 Wilson Dr., turned right onto Pittsburgh Cir. from First St. in his red Chevrolet Silverado at approximately 12:43AM. The patrolling officer pulled the man over for failing to utilize his turn signal.
The officer noticed the smell of alcohol on Lagana’s breath after asking for his license and registration. The accused said he drank two or three beers, and agreed to take a series of field sobriety tests. Lagana failed all four tests, which prompted the officer to take him to Ellwood City Hospital for a blood test at approximately 1:03AM.
The test revealed the actor’s BAC as .141. Lagana remained in custody until his wife picked him up.
Possession of Narcotics and Disorderly Conduct
Policed cited two men for narcotic possession and disorderly conduct in a public place on Nov. 10.
Police found Zachary Allen Cochran, 19, of Beaver Falls, and Jesse Ryan Terracio, 19, of 1275 Cherry Hill Rd., in possession of marijuana and paraphernalia during a routine traffic stop.
According to the report, the reporting officer spotted a black 2013 Toyota Sequoia while patrolling on Pershing St. The driver failed to signal, and turned left onto Line Ave. He then sped up and turned left again onto Fifth St. The officer eventually pulled him over in the McDonald’s parking lot.
While approaching the vehicle, police detected a strong odor of burnt marijuana emitting from the vehicle. According to police, Cochran, took several minutes to find his vehicle registration and while answering questions, kept from making eye contact with the officer. When eye contact was finally made, the officer noticed Cochran’s eyes to be blood-shot and glassy.
Prior to letting the two men leave the scene with a warning, the policeman asked if they smoked marijuana during the evening. Cochran told the officer that his place of employment drug tested periodically, which kept him from smoking. Upon request, the accused stuck his tongue out, which revealed a green residue.
The officer asked Cochran to step out of the vehicle, and mentioned that he smelled marijuana coming from him and inside the car. The driver admitted to smoking the substance earlier that night. Then, Cochran told police that some marijuana might be under the seat, but he “didn’t know for sure.”
The officer advised Terracio to also step out of the car, at which point a second officer arrived at the scene. The passenger told the police that he possessed marijuana prior to a pat down. He pulled out a half-filled baggy of marijuana, and a bottle filled a quarter of the way with more. Along with the marijuana police found a bottle of equate eye drops in the man’s possession.
The officers received permission from Cochran to search the vehicle. They found the following: A small baggy of marijuana, a one-hitter pipe, and a homemade pipe constructed of a socket wrench wrapped in foil and pieced together with tape.
The men waited at the scene until a friend arrived to take them home.
Driving Under the Influence
An Ellwood City man faces a charge after failing multiple field sobriety tests on Nov. 6.
Police arrested Luke Ray Fisher, 21, of 625 First Ave, after finding him intoxicated while operating a vehicle.
According to the report, officers received a call at approximately 10:14PM. The called stated that a highly intoxicated male was about to leave his residence and drive to Koppel in a silver and aluminum Hyundai Elantra.
Officers passed the vehicle as it traveled North near Rite Aid pharmacy, at which point they turned around and attempted to pull the driver over. Fisher finally pulled over after traveling another three to four blocks with officers in pursuit.
Police approached the car and found the man fumbling through papers to find his PA drivers license, insurance card, and vehicle registration. Fisher found his ID, but explained that he did not have new cards.
The officers noticed alcohol on the actor’s breath and asked him if he was drinking, to which he responded, “no.” The officers then mentioned that they smelled alcohol on his breath and asked how many he drank. Fisher told them two, maybe three, at home.
After failing several field sobriety tests, officers took Fisher to Ellwood City Hospital, where blood tests revealed his Blood-alcohol content as .134.
Police charged the actor with driving under the influence.
Police arrested an Ellwood City woman on Nov. 7 after several months of allegedly evading a debt.
Shana Melinda Seng, 27, of 627 Park Ave. faces a theft charge after writing a check from a closed account to purchase girl scout cookies.
According to the report, Seng wrote a bad check in the amount of $825 to a girl scout selling cookies in town on 2/28/2013. On March 8, the girl scout’s mother wrote a certified letter to the accused stating that her check bounced, and she needed a good one by March 13, which the failed to occur.
Seng received an extension on the debt until March 28, but again made no payment. She then told the mother that she spoke with the corporate office, and made arrangements to pay for the cookies. The mother spoke with the corporate office and received no confirmation of payment.
Then, on Sept. 10, the mother contacted police about the matter. She gave the bad check to the Ellwood City Police Department. An officer then called Seng and left a voice mail message explaining that she had until Sept. 27 to make good on the check, but he never received a return call. Two days prior to the deadline, the officer called to remind the accused of the approaching deadline, and she stated she paid the money to corporate. The officer said to bring the receipt to the station, but Seng never did.
Police contacted the finance manager of the girl scout cookies company, who said she never received money from Seng. On Oct. 9, the officer made another call to the suspect and told her that he spoke with the corporate officer, and that they never obtained payment. He explained to Seng that she needed to pay the debt by Oct. 31, or she would receive charges.
On Nov. 7, after another courtesy extension, police arrested Seng and charged her with theft over $200.
On Nov. 5, four individuals threw a pumpkin through an Ellwood City resident’s back door on the 300 block of Crescent Ave.
According the report, the homeowner heard several knocks on his back door, then a loud crash. When he arrived at the scene, the actors, completely dressed in black, ran down the alley towards B&B Express.
The victim noticed shattered glass all over his porch, and half of a pumpkin just off of the porch walkway.
No arrests have been made at this time.
An Ellwood City man reported a burglary at his Ellport home.
According to the report, the victim, who lives with his parents, but also maintains his Wurtem Way residence, arrived at his home to pick up mail on Nov. 5. He found evidence of intrusion through the rear window by his back porch, and realized that several items disappeared, including:
- a 42″ Sony flat screen television
- a white NuWave oven
- a black Keurig coffee maker
- a coffee tray
- an XBOX with controllers and games
- a laptop PC
- several DVDs
Two partial finger prints were lifted from the rear window. The homeowner believes the incident occurred between Nov. 3 and Nov. 5
Currently, no arrests have been made in connection with the burglary.