Man charged with pulling gun in dispute over social distancing pleads guilty to federal gun charge

Local News
George Vanderwall, Jr., 34, faces a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Warren man who was charged with a federal gun offense after being arrested by Warren police for pulling a gun during an argument over social distancing pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal firearms charge.

George Vanderwall Jr., 35, pleaded guilty before U.S. Judge Dan Aaron Polster in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Sentencing is set for Nov. 30.

Vanderwall was arrested March 2 after Warren police received a complaint of a man pulling a gun on a customer in a West Market Street Family Dollar store.

An affidavit in Vanderwall’s case said a witness told investigators that he was in line at the store and Vanderwall and a woman were behind him but not within the six-foot radius recommended for social distancing because of COVID-19.

The witness asked Vanderwall “to respect a six-foot radius and a disagreement ensued,” the affidavit said.

Vanderwall grabbed a gun from his jacket pocket and pointed it at the witness. When the witness asked what Vanderwall was going to do with the gun, Vanderwall said he was going to wait outside the store for the witness, the affidavit said. Vanderwall then left the store.

Investigators looked at the video of the incident and saw Vanderwall point outside and what appeared to be a handgun in his hand as he walked out of the store, the affidavit said.

When police were called, Vanderwall was no longer outside the store, but officers searched the area and found him and the woman nearby, according to the affidavit.

Vanderwall was found walking on Ward Street with a 22-year-old woman. When Vanderwall was searched, police reported finding a loaded .32 caliber handgun and 36 rounds of ammunition for two different handguns.

Reports said the woman had a .22-caliber handgun in her pocket. The woman has not been charged.

Vanderwall is not allowed to have a gun because of a December 2019 felony domestic violence conviction in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

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