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Police nab fleeing convict

Emil Whitis • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Rico Brown, 25, was charged with tampering with evidence, obstructing official business, defacing identification marks of a firearm and carrying concealed weapons. 

It all started at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday when police tried to stop a veering Oldsmobile in the 1800 block of W. Monroe St. 

Instead of stopping, the car turned left onto Putnam Street then left onto Barker Street, disregarding a stop sign at the corner, according to a Sandusky police report. 

Police sounded the siren as the vehicle accelerated down Barker Street. The Oldsmobile screeched to a halt. The driver and a passenger jumped out and made a break for it. 

“While in pursuit, I observed the subject in the red hat reaching for an item from the front of his pants and then presented, what appeared to be a small-caliber pistol in his right hand,” a report said. 

As the officer gave chase, his radio fell from its holster and wrapped around his legs. 

“At this point, due to the subject in the gray hoodie brandishing a firearm and being unaware of the other subject’s location or if he also was in a possession of a firearm, I discontinued the foot pursuit,” a report said. 

Both fugitives got away. 

Two men, identified as Demarraiy Fuller, 21, and Zafar VanCleaf, 23, both of Sandusky, were still inside the parked Oldsmobile when police got back, but they refused to talk. 

“They both advised they met up with the subjects at the Underground bar and they were offered a ride home, which they accepted,” a report said. “They both advised having no knowledge of the identities of the subjects.” 

Police charged Fuller and VanCleaf with obstructing official business and hauled them off to the Erie County jail, where they were held without bond. 

Meanwhile other officers found a .25-caliber pistol underneath a tree in the 1700 block of Barker St. 

The serial number was scratched off the weapon, according to Sandusky police Sgt. Dana Newell.

They found matching ammunition stuffed under the Oldsmobile’s back seat. 

It’s unclear exactly how police identified Brown as the suspect with the gun, but they were watching from an unmarked car when he emerged from a house in the 400 block of Franklin St. Sunday. 

And they had warrants with Brown’s name on them. 

“Rico Brown was observed exiting the residence, and he proceeded to get into the right rear passenger seat of the listed Chevy,” a report said. 

Police stopped the Chevy and arrested Brown on the spot. 

They searched the vehicle but didn’t find anything illegal. 

Brown was released from the Lorain Correctional Institution Feb. 17 after serving more than a year on a carrying concealed weapons conviction. 

That charge stemmed from a Oct. 2011 traffic stop on East Park Street. Police found a domestic violence warrant on a passenger, identified as Brown. While searching him they found a loaded Taurus 9mm pistol. 

Brown was barred from carrying weapons after a 2007 felony assault conviction. 

Newell said police have sent the .25-caliber pistol to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for identification. Once investigators restore the serial number, they’ll check the registration to figure out its owner. 

“There’s only one reason I can think of that you’d destroy a serial number on a gun,” he said. 

Brown was being held at the Erie County jail on $55,344 bond late Monday. Fuller and VanCleaf had been released. 


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