Man questioned in connection to shooting

WELLSVILLE – Police are continuing their investigation into a shooting Tuesday night that killed 36-year-old Taru Smith of Lorain, with officers traveling to Lorain on Thursday to question a person thought to be connected to the case.

Lt. Ed Wilson confirmed that officers were sent to question David Morales, 29, who had been taken into custody Thursday morning by the U.S. Marshal’s Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force on outstanding warrants.

“We have a couple guys interviewing him right now,” Wilson said, stopping short of identifying Morales as a suspect in Smith’s death, but saying, “We can’t rule him out as a suspect.”

Wilson added, “We are checking out leads and getting names. We’re getting close.”

On Wednesday night, the fugitive task force was quoted in the Elyria Chronicle Telegram as saying Morales was being sought in connection to Smith’s shooting. The task force had reportedly been searching for Morales several weeks due to a parole violation in Ohio and a warrant for possession and trafficking of narcotics in Pennsylvania.

After learning from Wellsville police that they wanted to question Morales, the task force made finding him a priority, according to other published reports.

Meanwhile, Wilson said Thursday the autopsy on Smith’s body in Summit County showed a bullet lodged near his heart but he did not have any other information on the autopsy.

Smith was shot just before 6 p.m. Tuesday on Clover Alley by someone in what police believe was a white Mazda that continued on. Smith drove to the front of the police station, where his SUV struck a parked vehicle.

He was transported to East Liverpool City Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police have not offered a motive in the shooting but said previously that drug-related issues cannot be ruled out. Smith was slated to go to trial next week in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on drug charges, having been arrested in November during a raid on a Wellsville house.