Refusal of shooting witnesses to come forward frustrating police


Witnesses reluctant to help police solve shootings

By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com



Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed must sometimes deal with uncooperative or reluctant witnesses in his courtroom.

Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed must sometimes deal with uncooperative or reluctant witnesses in his courtroom.


File photo

Members of the Lima Police Department, including Detective Steve Stechschulte, pictured above testifying during a recent court appearance, often are forced to solve crimes despite a complete lack of cooperation from persons with direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding those crimes. Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed, also pictured, has at times seen a similar reluctance of community members to get involved.

Members of the Lima Police Department, including Detective Steve Stechschulte, pictured above testifying during a recent court appearance, often are forced to solve crimes despite a complete lack of cooperation from persons with direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding those crimes. Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed, also pictured, has at times seen a similar reluctance of community members to get involved.


File photo

LIMA — Amnesia is apparently running rampant in Lima.

So too is poor bladder control and failing eyesight.

Those are conclusions to which local police could rightly come as they attempt to solve any number of shooting incidents in which would-be witnesses mysteriously failed to see a thing.

Such is the case with a recent Allen County homicide which remains unsolved. More than a month after a shooting at the United Auto Workers hall in Lima left one person dead and six other injured, Lima police are no closer to solving the murder than they were immediately following the incident.

Carrington Lott, 23, died of gunshot wounds as a result of gunfire at around 3:45 a.m. on July 5 at the union hall, located at 1440 Bellefontaine Ave. Six others were taken to area hospitals following the shootings.

“The bottom line is that people who were present at the UAW hall are not stepping up to help us out and wrap up the investigation,” said Sgt. Jason Garlock of the Lima Police Department. “We have no leads on suspects or new developments in the case.”

Police were dispatched to the hall in the early morning hours in response to a report of multiple shots being fired. Lott was pronounced dead after arriving at an area hospital, the result of gunshot wounds. A handgun believed to have been used in the shootings was found by police at the scene, but no suspects have as yet been identified.

Garlock said a “ton of evidence” has been sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for testing. In addition to the weapon found at the scene, Garlock said shell casings and clothing are also in the hands of the BCI technicians. But it could be several weeks before test results are available, he said.

Anyone with information surround the shooting has been asked to contact police, but Garlock said investigators are finding that persons in attendance at the UAW holiday party are not willing to get involved.

The same is true of a shooting on the evening of July 27 in the 900 block of Richie Avenue in Lima in which two adult males were the victims. Both men suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, but neither have provided much assistance to police.

“We don’t have any suspects in that case, either,” said Garlock. “No one saw anything.”

Frustrations aplenty

The failure of the members of the community to help police solve crimes is an extension of the street culture that law enforcement officers and legal professionals experience often.

Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed voiced his frustration over that culture earlier this week when passing sentence on a man who was the subject of death threats after testifying at a murder trial.

In what his attorney termed ill-advised “vigilante justice,” the defendant had taken revenge on the individuals who were threatening him and his family by firing a weapon into a home. On Tuesday he was sentenced to seven years in prison for that act.

But Reed, who could have tacked on additional time to that sentence, took into consideration that the defendant “did the right thing” and took the witness stand at trial.

“This is my dilemma,” Reed said. “I can feel the anger of the community” over ongoing gang violence and the need for stricter sentences for those caught up in such activities. “On the other hand, here’s a young man who manned up and testified, and that is an important factor” in determining an equitable sentence, the judge said.

In a similar example of the public’s occasional resistance to the legal system, Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Destiny Caldwell took a case to its conclusion on Thursday — despite the lack of cooperation of a reluctant victim/witness.

Caldwell cited for the court the defendant’s lengthy criminal history, which she said included “a few previous cases of violence that were dismissed when the victim-family member failed to appear” in court or to cooperate with police and prosecutors. In the immediate instance, the “victim” wanted the charges dismissed.

But Caldwell said the desires of a reluctant or uncooperative witness are sometimes irrelevant to the legal process.

“Sometimes it’s our job to protect people from themselves,” the prosecutor said.

Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed must sometimes deal with uncooperative or reluctant witnesses in his courtroom.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/08/web1_Judge-Reed-Januay-2018.jpgAllen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed must sometimes deal with uncooperative or reluctant witnesses in his courtroom. File photo
Members of the Lima Police Department, including Detective Steve Stechschulte, pictured above testifying during a recent court appearance, often are forced to solve crimes despite a complete lack of cooperation from persons with direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding those crimes. Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed, also pictured, has at times seen a similar reluctance of community members to get involved.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/08/web1_Steck-murder-trial-detective-Stechschulte-cropped.jpgMembers of the Lima Police Department, including Detective Steve Stechschulte, pictured above testifying during a recent court appearance, often are forced to solve crimes despite a complete lack of cooperation from persons with direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding those crimes. Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed, also pictured, has at times seen a similar reluctance of community members to get involved. File photo
Witnesses reluctant to help police solve shootings

By J Swygart

jswygart@limanews.com

Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.

Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.

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