Man on run since August captured
LEETONIA — Ricardo Gonzalez Jr., the 30-year-old man who has been on the run from law enforcement since Aug. 8, was taken into custody late Wednesday night.
County Sheriff Ray Stone said deputies acted on a tip that Gonzalez was possibly hiding at a home on state Route 164 between state Route 558 and Columbiana. Deputies, the highway patrol and both the K-9 unit from the sheriff’s office and the city of Columbiana surrounded the house. Stone said they also implemented the use of a drone above the house to assist them in case Gonzalez ran as he has during past attempts to locate him.
He was taken into custody without any resistance. Possible drugs and drug paraphernalia were seized, and Stone said additional charges are possible pending the outcome of BCI lab tests. No guns were found.
Gonzalez, last known address Bye Road, East Palestine, was the only person found in the house when law enforcement arrived, and it is not known if the homeowners knew he was there. Others alleged to have helped Gonzalez during the weeks he has run from deputies have faced charges.
After working to locate Gonzalez for weeks, the county sheriff’s office had posted on their Facebook page a request for tips from the community on Sept. 30.
Gonzalez appeared for arraignment in county Municipal Court on charges of felonious assault, a first-degree felony, and failure to comply, a third-degree felony. Bond was set at $500,000 cash or surety. He was further cited with misdemeanor charges of failure to stop after an accident, improper backing and a forfeiture specification. Those charges are for allegedly backing up his vehicle and nearly striking a deputy before striking the cruiser on Aug. 8 and fleeing the scene.
Deputies had been called to Bye Road, East Palestine, after it was reported a suspicious man had been sitting in the vehicle.
A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 22.
Stone said he knows the public has been concerned about Gonzalez and he wants people to know it is safe again to return to camping and other outdoor activities in the areas where they have searched for Gonzalez, including in the direction of Beaver Creek State Park last week.
Three people who were charged with obstructing official business for allegedly helping Gonzalez also appeared in Municipal Court on Thursday.
Brenna J. Perkins, 26, Morris Road, Lisbon; Wilber L. Miller, 46, Bell Road, Lisbon, and Angela M. Weaver, 32, Garfield Avenue, East Palestine, were each bound over to the grand jury on a third-degree felony charge after deputies reportedly found them helping Gonzalez, including providing him with transportation and places to hide last week.