Men arrested during Youngstown Italian Fest had weapons on them, police say

Local News
James Sparks, 52, of North Navarre Road in Austintown, was charged with felony carrying concealed weapons

James Sparks

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Two men who reports say had guns and knives on them were arrested downtown Sunday at the Youngstown Italian Fest.

Ronald Strickland, 48, of Massachusetts, was charged with misdemeanor carrying concealed weapons and James Sparks, 52, of Austintown, was charged with felony carrying concealed weapons.

Reports say the men were arrested about just before 5 p.m. after a person told a police officer they saw two men inside the gate wearing jackets for a motorcycle gang and carrying baseball bats.

The officer found Sparks and Strickland inside the beer tent. Police said they had ax handles with them that were covered in tape.

The men were told three times they had they to take the handles to their vehicles but they ignored the officer, police said.

Reports said the two then walked away but as they did, the officer spotted a holster for a knife under both their jackets and ordered them to stop at N. Walnut and E. Federal streets. The men stopped and were searched.

When Sparks was searched, he told police he also has a gun and officers found a .22-caliber revolver and two knives on him.

Reports said Strickland also had two knives and a .45-caliber pistol.

Sparks was arraigned via video from the jail in municipal court and was granted house arrest. Strickland was arraigned Monday morning after he managed to post bail. He is expected to have a pretrial Sept. 16.

Reports say Strickland has a concealed carry permit from Massachusetts, which is why he was only charged with a misdemeanor.

Reports said Strickland did not tell police he had a permit when they first talked to him, which is required under Ohio law if someone has a permit.

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