BEAVER TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKBN) — Alcohol and text messages led to an argument that culminated in the beating of a township police officer Friday while also touching off a manhunt for the suspect.
The suspect, Zachary Crespo, 33, of Austintown, is in the Mahoning County jail on $300,000 bond after being arraigned Tuesday in Mahoning County Area Court in Canfield before Judge Molly Johnson on charges of felonious assault on a police officer, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, violation of a protection order and domestic violence.
The ordeal started about 9:15 p.m. on Old Hickory Court when a woman called police and said she was having an argument with Crespo, who was outside breaking windows. When she went into her garage to talk to the first officer who responded, reports said Crespo ambushed the officer, running past her, and throwing a bottle that struck him in the face.
The bottle knocked the officer off balance and Crespo knocked him down and began punching him in the face, reports said.
The woman tried to stop the attack but Crespo was still able to unholster the officer’s weapon and take it with him when he ran out of the garage.
The woman told police she has a protection order against Crespo, but they were spending time together anyway, reports said. Reports said the woman picked up Crespo earlier in the day after he called her and said he had been drinking heavily. The two went to a group home to get Crespo’s belongings before spending time in Mill Creek Park.
Then, they went back to the woman’s home in Beaver and began drinking vodka at about 6 p.m., reports said. Reports said Crespo began going through the woman’s phone and became upset because he saw messages between her and another man.
Crespo threatened to harm himself and held a knife to his wrist as the woman told him to leave or she would call police, reports said. Reports said he walked outside and the woman locked all the doors, but Crespo kicked out the glass to a back door.
A short time later, the officer who was attacked arrived, reports said. In a separate report, the officer who was injured said when he got to the home, he saw Crespo and the woman arguing and thought he “needed to intervene to diffuse the situation.” The officer knocked and just as he tried to open the door, Crespo threw a bottle at him, which knocked him backward.
“That kind of startled him and knocked him back. The suspect took advantage of that and proceeded to beat our officer,” said Chief Eric Datillo.
As he was still stumbling around, Crespo knocked him to the floor. The officer said he was punched twice before he blacked out and when he regained his senses, he discovered his gun was gone.
Other officers arrived and assisted him, but he continued going in and out of consciousnesses in a cruiser, reports said. He was ultimately taken to St. Elizabeth Medical Center and released the next day.
Later, at about 12:10 a.m. Saturday, a man called police and said he was a friend of Crespo’s and the two attended U.S. Army basic training together. The man told police Crespo wanted to turn himself in and agreed to be the point of contact between police, who at this time had summoned the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team.
Crespo was found by troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol a short time later at West Pine Lake and Elton roads while he was on the phone with negotiators.
Crespo told ambulance crews while he was being examined that he enjoyed being shot with a stun weapon when he was taken into custody and he hopes to buy one when he gets out of jail. He also blamed an officer for the situation, the report said.
Crespo is expected to have a preliminary hearing Friday in county court in Canfield.
Reports said about 150 officers, drones, a SWAT team and a helicopter were used to try and find Crespo.
“You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys, coming with experience with their training and with their leadership to take control of so many different points,” Datillo said.