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Newton Twp. man guilty of gun charge

Police still looking for woman who was with him

A Newton Township man was convicted on a federal charge linked to a gun being pulled on a customer March 2 at a Family Dollar store in Warren.

George B. Vanderwall Jr., 35, of Kings Drive SW, appeared via video Tuesday before U.S. Judge Dan Aron Polster in Cleveland to plead guilty to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Polster set sentencing for 11:30 a.m. Nov. 30 in the Cleveland federal courtroom and ordered that Vanderwall must submit to a background investigation conducted by federal probation officers to determine the length of sentence.

In the meantime, the judge ordered Vanderwall to remain in custody of the federal marshal. The plea hearing headed off a potential jury trial that had been set for 9 a.m. Aug. 12 before Polster.

According to a federal affidavit, a clerk at the Family Dollar, 1139 W. Market St., in Warren reported to police that a man pulled a gun on another customer about 3:30 p.m. March 2. A witness told a Warren police officer the suspect was tall, had tattoos on his face and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with jeans. About 10 minutes later, Vanderwall was stopped with a 22-year-old woman near the intersection of Haymaker Avenue and Ward Street NW.

Upon searching Vanderwall, officers found a loaded .32-caliber handgun in the pocket of his hoodie. A Beretta .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol was pulled from the pocket of the woman’s sweatshirt, which Vanderwall said was his. Also two plastic bags of ammunition were found on Vanderwall, the affidavit states.

The clerk later told an officer the man pulled the gun on another store patron after a brief argument over the lack of social distancing in the checkout line.

Authorities are looking for the woman with Vanderwall at the store, identified as Shania Mechling, 22, of Leavittsburg.

Mechling, who was indicted on a carrying a concealed weapon charge, did not appear for a June 24 hearing before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald J. Rice, who issued a warrant for her arrest.

Because of Vanderwall’s 2019 conviction of domestic violence in Cuyahoga County, the federal indictment states, he is barred from possessing a firearm under the federal Brady Bill.

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