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Warren officer involved in gunfire exchange

Police agencies comb area for suspect

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Warren police, Trumbull County Sheriff’s deputies and agents from the FBI huddle Monday night outside of an apartment building at Mauro Circle in Niles, as the search continued for someone who shot at a Warren police officer. The off-duty but armed officer had approached what appeared to be a disabled vehicle on Pine Avenue SE, and gunfire was exchanged.

HOWLAND — Police from multiple agencies worked into the night following a gunfire exchange Monday between a motorist and a Warren police officer.

Warren Safety Service Director Eddie Colbert said the off-duty, but armed, officer approached what appeared to be a disabled vehicle on Pine Avenue SE and was fired upon.

Colbert and police Chief Eric Merkel said the officer was not hit as gunfire was exchanged.

“The incident escalated and shots were fired — we believe by both,” Merkel said.

The episode unfolded shortly before 6 p.m. The suspect fled in possibly a black SUV and was at large late Monday.

Police quickly shut down Pine Avenue at Burton Street.

After the gunfire, the officer radioed to dispatch, indicating that he was hit — or might have been hit. He was taken to Trumbull Regional Medical Center to make sure he was OK.

“Your adrenaline is running and you don’t know if you’re hit,” the chief said.

Merkel, Colbert and Law Director Enzo Cantalamessa were at the hospital prior to the officer being released. Merkel declined to identify the officer.

Later in the night, agencies — including the FBI, Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department and Trumbull County Violent Crime Task Force — converged on an apartment complex at Mauro Circle near North Road, Niles. Several dozen police cars from departments across Trumbull County also were there, serching the complex.

A resident, who said the neighborhood is typically quiet, said police arrived with guns drawn.

Police had left the apartment area by 11:30 p.m., but no further information was released.

Howland police are in charge of the incident because it began in Howland, and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation most likely will come to the scene, Merkel said. Warren also is doing its own probe.

A large contingent of law enforcement officers worked along Pine, between Burton and DeForest Road SE, for several hours, using flashlights searching for evidence.

Weathersfield police worked the scene with a police dog. Cortland city police helped to block the roadway shortly after the gunfire exchange.

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