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Gonzalez stays one step ahead

LISBON — Although the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office continues to search for Ricardo Gonzalez Jr., who is wanted on at least two felony charges, three people appeared in County Municipal Court on Thursday on felony charges connected with helping him hide from authorities.

Sheriff Ray Stone said deputies got a tip he could be in the Rogers area on Tuesday and in the course of searching for him, found other people who knew he was a fugitive from justice, but were helping him anyway. However, as he has done on other occasions, Gonzalez, 30, was not captured.

Stone said there are concerns Gonzalez is armed and dangerous. Deputies have confiscated two vehicles he had been driving during earlier encounters before this week. Both vehicles had handguns inside.

Preliminary hearings were set in County Municipal Court for Oct. 15, Angela M. Weaver, 32, Sprucevale Road, East Liverpool; Wilber L. Miller, 46, Pancake-Clarkson Road, Rogers; and Brenna J. Perkins, 26, Morris Road, Lisbon, each charged with obstructing official business, a third-degree felony. Each are being held on a $5,000 cash or surety bond.

Court documents indicate Weaver allegedly traveled with Gonzalez to her home, where they were both dropped off and then she allowed him to stay on her property. Additionally, Weaver is accused of being in the process of selling him a Chevrolet Blazer for transportation on Wednesday.

Miller allegedly allowed Gonzalez to stay at his home on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, deputies found Miller inside a white Buick owned by Gonzalez, a vehicle which Miller had been working to fix because Gonzalez needed a working vehicle. Miller also allegedly lied about not knowing where Gonzalez was, when he knew Gonzalez had just been dropped off at Weaver’s home.

Perkins allegedly told deputies she did not know where Gonzalez was, but then admitted she had known for about a week he was a fugitive and had driven him to the area of Peace Valley Orchard, dropping him off near where his grandfather lived on Wednesday morning. She then allegedly picked him and Weaver up from that area and dropped them both off at Weaver’s home. Additionally, Perkins was reportedly also in the process of selling a vehicle to Gonzalez.

Despite following Gonzalez’ whereabouts from Pancake-Clarkson Road to Sprucevale Road, Stone said they believe Gonzalez slipped away through the woods from the area on Sprucevale Road and headed toward Beaver Creek State Park. Four K-9 dogs from various departments came and assisted the sheriff’s office in looking for Gonzalez on Wednesday. At one point they know he borrowed a man’s phone in the Rogers area, when he was out in the yard.

After spending Tuesday and Wednesday looking for Gonzalez, Stone said Thursday so far Gonzalez has been “lucky” keeping in front of them. However, Stone noted while Gonzalez may be running out of guns, vehicles and friends at this point, there are concerns about what he may do if he becomes desperate. The U.S. Marshal’s Office reportedly is in the process of putting together a reward for information leading to Gonzalez’ capture.

Late last week, Chief Deputy Kip Dowling detailed some of the recent times the sheriff’s office has had contact with Gonzalez. On Aug. 8, deputies and New Waterford EMS were called to the area of Bye Road and Adams Road in Unity Township, where a newspaper carrier reported someone passed out behind the wheel. The man, later identified as Gonzalez reportedly started backing up his vehicle, nearly struck a deputy and hit the cruiser. The deputy opened the door, but Gonzalez reportedly accelerated the vehicle and left.

The charges from that encounter were felonious assault, failure to comply, driving under suspension, failure to stop and improper backing.

On Aug. 20, a passenger fled on foot from what was described as a suspicious vehicle. On Justison Road a woman reported a vehicle was driving through her field and nearly crashed into her cows. The vehicle was found near a wellsite and a gun was found in the vehicle.

On Sept. 28, deputies believed him to be at a home on Cunningham Road, but Gonzalez fled. Salem police sent a K-9 to search the area for up to two hours, but he was not located. Deputies returned to the home on Sept. 30, but again he was not found.

Dowling emphasized it is important to get him off the streets before someone gets injured.

Gonzalez has a warrant charging him with a first-degree felony assault of a peace officers, as well as a third-degree felony failure to comply, his two most serious offenses. He is described as 5 foot, 7 inches tall, about 165 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. Anyone who encounters him is asked not to approach him, but to call the sheriff’s office at 330-424-7255.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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