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Friends offer conflicting statements in Hamilton St. shooting

Unclear whether victim had gun in police-involved shooting

Balloons and signs were left outside the home of David L. Rigg, who died after a nearly two-hour standoff with Warren police. Police went to 2151 Hamilton St. SW at 10:13 p.m. Monday. Staff photo / Raymond L. Smith

WARREN — In the moments before his death, David L. Rigg spent time calling several friends and family members.

At least one friend, Ronald Knicely Jr., described being called by Rigg shortly before 11:30 p.m. Rigg told him there was “bull—-“ going on with police surrounding his house — and he simply wanted to get out.

Katina Kennedy, 46, Rigg’s cousin, described being on the phone with him at about the same time — with him saying police were going to have kill him.

She said Rigg told her that he was not going back into prison.

“Baby girl, I have a gun between my legs,” Kennedy said Rigg told her. “I’m going to make them kill me.”

Kennedy described attempting to calm him down, but he kept repeating that police were going to have to kill him.

“The more he talked, the angrier he sounded,” she said. “There was no talking him out of it.”

After few moments, Rigg hung up on Kennedy.

It was 20 minutes later that she learned he was dead.

Kennedy said this was not the first time Rigg had suggested he was going to die in such a way.

AFTERMATH

Wednesday afternoon, several balloons and signs were seen outside of the 2161 Hamilton St. SW residence, saying goodbye to David “Day-Day” Rigg.

Danny Knicely, who grew up with Rigg in the former Westlawn neighborhood and lived just down the road from him on Hamilton, said he attempted to convince officers surrounding the house to allow him to go and talk to his friend before the situation escalated into a tragedy.

“I was told they could not do it,” Knicely said. “It was a crime scene and they could not allow anyone near the house.”

Warren police were sent to the house in response to a domestic violence call the department received at 10:13 p.m. Monday, according to a Warren police report.

Although police officers were surrounding the house, Knicely insisted the crime scene tape had not yet been put around the area.

He and others who were at the scene on Monday night said firmly they believe things would have ended differently if someone Rigg knew had been allowed to talk to him.

“If they would have allowed someone he trusted to talk to him, perhaps they would not have had to shoot him,” Knicely said. “They would not allow me to get closer.”

Danny Knicely said Rigg did not have a gun in the house, but he might have had a BB gun.

Ronald Kniceley Jr., Danny’s nephew, said Rigg called, saying he loved him and his kids.

The two relatives spell their names differently.

“I was there when he was shot,” Kniceley Jr. said. “He did not have anything in his hands. One of his hands was in the air.”

Kniceley Jr. described Rigg as coming out the back door. He said he believes there was enough light for police to know he did not have a weapon or anything in his hands.

Calls to police Chief Eric Merkel and Safety-Service Director Eddie Colbert were not returned Wednesday.

Kennedy, Knicely and Kniceley Jr. all described Rigg as an overall friendly man who was willing to help anyone when he was on his medications.

But they also agreed Rigg was a different man when he was off his meds.

“He could be abusive,” Kennedy said.

HOUSEMATE

Tina Fryer, 43, lived at the house with Rigg.

She said Wednesday that her children did not see him beat her, as had been reported.

“All he did was snatch me up by the hair,” Fryer said. “It was someone else who called the police. It was not me.”

The call was made by one of the children’s worried friends, a report stated, noting they are 5, 12 and 16.

When officers arrived at the home, Rigg retreated indoors. He sent Fryer out of the house to talk to the officers and convince them to leave.

The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been asked by the Warren Police Department to investigate the shooting.

Steve Irwin, a BCI spokesman, did not provide any additional information on Wednesday afternoon.

Kathleen M. Meszaros, chief forensic investigator for the Trumbull County Coroner’s office, said Rigg’s body was sent to Cleveland for an autopsy to be performed by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner today.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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