By RAYMOND L. SMITH
WARREN - Administration and residents praised law enforcement officials for bringing a hostage crisis to a close on Wednesday without anyone being injured. But some also expressed concern about downtown safety.
Howland resident Dan Cononico said he was not surprised that something like this happened at the jail.
"These are hardened criminals," Cononico said. "That's what you're dealing with."
Three men housed in Trumbull County jail took a corrections officer hostage shortly after 3:15 p.m. Wednesday and held him for about five hours. The men had a homemade knife, and prevented other law enforcement officials from going into their fourth-floor pod by tying blankets around the doors.
Cononico said he has a nephew and a son-in-law who are police officers.
"I pray for them every time they go out," Cononico said. "Maybe an incident like this will encourage the authorities to take precautions to make sure something like this does not happen again."
Warren resident Herbert Agueda, who has vision problems, described walking in the downtown area all of the time.
"I hope they will begin to crack down to make it safer," he said. "What happened on Wednesday night should not happen."
Phillip K. Richburg of Howland said the parents of the young men who took the corrections officer hostage did not whip them enough when they were young to make them learn right from wrong.
One woman, who works in the administration building, but asked not to be identified, expressed concern that her building remained open throughout the hostage crisis.
"Even though it was contained in the sheriff's office, how do we know it could not have gotten out?" she said. "People were coming in and going out of the building throughout the crisis. Our building was not locked down."
County Commissioner Frank Fuda said there was only one commissioner in the city when the hostage crisis began.
"It requires two commissioners to provide the authority to close the building down," Fuda said.
Fuda also said he was assured by law enforcement officials that everything was contained to the jail and there was no reason to shut down the county building early.
Councilman Greg Bartholomew, D-4th Ward, whose business and home is on East Market Street is on the opposite side of county courthouse, said he had no concern about his safety in spite of the activity.
"Within a few moments, there were more law enforcement people going towards the jail and securing the area around it," Bartholomew said. "I did not feel unsafe. I knew they were not going to leave the jail."
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said, "I want to commend the Warren Police Department, the Sheriff's Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and all of the law enforcement community involved in this incident.''
"I want to single out (hostage negotiator) Lt. Jeff Cole's essential role. I was next door and had radio access, so I was fortunate to be able to listen to some of the actual negotiations that took place. His work was excellent. It was a model of hostage negotiations," Franklin said.
Law enforcement officials from around Trumbull and Mahoning counties, as well as the U.S. Marshal's Office, state patrol and other agencies were involved in the standoff.
"They were very intense," he said. "There were some points before this was resolved that were very dramatic. It was through Jeff's professionalism that he was able to de-escalate some of the emotions.
''I am very proud of Jeff and glad he is a member of the Warren Police Department."
Councilman Eddie Colbert, D-7th Ward, chairman of the Warren City Council's Police and Fire Committee, agreed that Cole's work was essential.
"He was able to bring this situation to a conclusion without anyone being hurt," Colbert said.