Police subdue knife-wielding man; two stabbed, hospitalized

Weapons used in assault. (Courtesy of ELPD)

EAST LIVERPOOL — Two residents of the Fawcett Apartments on Moore Street were hospitalized Monday night after allegedly being stabbed by another resident who came after a city officer with two knives.

Detective John Headley responded at 8:30 p.m. to the high-rise apartment building to a report of a man with a knife walking into an eighth floor apartment and threatening the occupant.

A caretaker told Headley a man named “Wes” had walked into the apartment of Anthony G. Williams, 61, and threatened him with a knife. He did not know the man’s whereabouts but told the officer as far as he knew, he was back in his apartment.

Headley spoke with Williams, who said the man walked into his apartment with a knife and began asking him about “blue stone.” When Williams told the man he had no clue what he was talking about, the man threatened him for several minutes before leaving, getting onto the elevator.

After getting a description of the man, Headley went to the ninth floor and waited by his apartment door for backup officers to arrive. About two minutes later, he heard the fire escape door open and saw a man fitting the description given by Williams walking down the hallway toward him.

Wesley Boyd Johnson

As the man came toward Headley, he was reportedly carrying a large K-bar style knife in his right hand and a smaller box cutter in his left.

When Headley ordered him the drop the knives, the man – later identified as Wesley Boyd Johnson, 53 – continued coming toward the officer and growled at him. He was ordered three or four times to drop the weapons as he advanced to about 25 feet from the officer, growling and snarling the entire time, Headley reported.

He lifted the K-bar knife in an attack-like posture, at which point Headley deployed his Taser, which had no effect on Johnson, and the officer drew his gun, holding on Johnson and continuously ordering him to drop the knives as he retreated down the hallway to put distance between them.

At that point, Capt. Patrick Wright and Patrolman Moose Ramsey entered the hallway from the fire escape and, hearing Headley issuing orders to drop the knife, ran down the hallway and struck Johnson from behind, knocking him to the floor.

He still had the large knife in his right hand, and Headley put his foot on his hand and removed it.

Johnson continued fighting the three officers, who finally were able to put handcuffs on him and lifting him from the floor, where they found the box cutter.

As they were removing Johnson, a man came off the elevator to report a man had been stabbed on the seventh floor.

Wright found David W. Muha, 47, and Pamela Muha, 56, who said a man fitting Johnson’s description began beating on their door then broke in the apartment.

Mr. Muha said he tried to keep the man out of the apartment but was stabbed in the stomach and thrown into the hallway on the floor. The man then went into the apartment and attacked Mrs. Muha, all the while asking them about “green stones.”

David Muha sustained stab wounds to his right arm and abdomen and had to be flown to a Pittsburgh hospital; his wife had a stab wound to the left breast and one to the left arm. Police reports did not indicate where she was treated.

As officers attempted to place Johnson in the cruiser, he reportedly refused to get in and had to be placed in by force. While en route to the police station, he reportedly was telling officers he was “gonna kill the Jap” behind them and while being processed told officers to hurry up so he could go fishing on Babb’s Island and because he had to go to work in the morning.

He was charged with aggravated burglary, two counts of felonious assault and resisting arrest.

In East Liverpool Municipal Court Tuesday, a preliminary hearing was scheduled Dec. 1 for Johnson and $200,000 cash/surety bond was set. He was ordered to have no contact with the Muhas or to possess any firearms or ammunition.

According to the financial disclosure form Johnson completed in court, he has no employment, and a public defender was appointed.

Service-Safety Director Brian Allen commended officers for their handling of the incident, saying, “Officer Headley showed admirable courage and restraint in not using deadly force. I feel he would have been completely justified had he done so, but his training and experience as a police officer enabled him to remain calm, and luckily, backup arrived just in time.”

Allen also praised the other officers, saying, “Captain Wright and Officer Ramsey also showed amazing courage, taking down and disarming an armed suspect with nothing more than brute force and courage. The East Liverpool Police Department is blessed to have some very great men on the force. I sleep well at night knowing that these guys are protecting us citizens.”