YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Two officers with the city’s new Neighborhood Response Unit (NRU) seized five guns in four traffic stops in a little over 48 hours over the weekend.
The officers — Carlos Eggleston Jr. and Amir Khan — also arrested five people on charges of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle and other charges.
Four of the five guns seized were 9mm handguns. In one of the stops, they also found over $8,200 cash.
Of those arrested, two were 18 and one was arrested on his 19th birthday. Another person arrested had served 10 years in prison for manslaughter for a 2010 shooting death.
About 12:55 a.m. Sunday, Khan and Eggleston were in a parking lot on South Avenue when a car drove past them at a high rate going north on South Avenue. The pair tried to pull the car over but it failed to stop, instead driving down Pasadena Avenue, where it seemed to speed up in the 500 block of Pasadena before speeding up again and pulling into a drive in the 800 block of Cameron Avenue.
The officers looked where the car slowed down and found two loaded 9mm handguns. When they drove to Cameron Avenue, however, the car was no longer there, so they backtracked to Pasadena Avenue, where they found the car and Jo’quezz Robins of Riblett Avenue, who turned 19 at midnight, and Terrance Sellers, 18, of West Warren Avenue.
Reports said the two men told officers they were looking for a pack of cigars they threw out of the car. They were both taken into custody there and booked into the Mahoning County jail. They also each have additional charges of tampering with evidence.
About 10:10 p.m. Sunday, the pair spotted a car driven by Devonte Clay, 18, of Cohasset Drive, speeding on East Florida Avenue. The officers managed to pull the car over in the 900 block of East Florida Avenue.
Reports said Clay told the officers he had no weapons inside and gave them consent to search. They found a loaded .40-caliber handgun underneath the driver’s seat, reports said, and Clay was arrested.
About 10:35 p.m. Saturday, the officers pulled over a car driven by Joseph Valentin, 32, at Shirley Road and Cooper Street for running a stop sign. Reports said Valentin has a suspended driver’s license and when he was taken out of the car to be searched, he told police he had a bag of marijuana and some ecstasy pills in a fanny pack on his belt.
In the car police found a loaded 9mm handgun. Reports said Valentin admitted the gun was his.
Valentin was taken to the jail where he managed to post bond, then skipped a 10 a.m. court hearing Monday in municipal court in an unrelated case. There is a warrant for his arrest. He is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
In 2010, Valentin was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and kidnapping with a firearms specification. He is presently on five years probation. He pleaded guilty to taking part in the shooting death of Marlon Chatman, 28, who died in July 2010 after being shot twice in the leg at a home on West Chalmers Avenue.
A co-defendant in the case received a sentence of 23 years to life after pleading guilty to aggravated murder with a firearm specification.
About 10:10 p.m. Friday the officers pulled over a car driven by Thomas Bailey, 26, at Rush Boulevard and East Philadelphia Avenue for an improper turn. Reports said when Bailey went to open his glove compartment, the officers could see the butt end of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol.
Bailey also had $8,280 cash on him, reports said.
Chief Carl Davis said the NRU was formed to help clamp down on gun violence in specific neighborhoods through special patrols and other efforts. Of the 32 shootings in the city this year, 21 gave been on the South Side, including five of seven homicides. Of those 21 shootings, 14 of them have been east of Market Street, including four of the five homicides.