WELLSVILLE - Two men are in jail following a shooting and home invasion late Monday night near Garfield Elementary School.
Police responded to the corner of 16th Street and Maple Avenue just before 10:50 p.m. after receiving reports of shots fired nearby. Officers were already en route to the area for complaints of a fight in the street.
Police Chief Joe Scarabino says witnesses reported hearing two or three rounds fired in the neighborhood before seeing two men running from the scene.
The suspects ran north toward 14th Street, where they allegedly burst through the front door of a house - which was occupied by seven people, including an infant - and took refuge on the second floor. Scarabino says the suspects, though uninvited, did not attack anyone or take hostages within the home. No one in the house at the time claimed to know either suspect.
The homeowner gave police permission to search the residence. The suspects were found hiding upstairs and were taken into custody without incident.
"We were able to learn later that it was indeed the two that were involved in the shooting at 16th and Maple," he said.
The two have been identified as Lamar Coles, 21, of East Liverpool, and Queysean Sallis, 18, of Midland, Pa. Sallis, the alleged shooter, has been charged with discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises, felony burglary and inducing panic. Coles is charged with felony burglary.
Scarabino said police are still looking into the person who may have been the intended target and the circumstances that led to the shooting. Drugs are being considered as a factor, though Scarabino preferred not to go into detail while the incident remains under investigation.
"We turned over several items of evidence [to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation] for testing and evaluation," he said, including a weapon believed to be the one used in the shooting.
According to the affidavit provided to the Columbiana County Municipal Court by the police, Sallis and Coles had attempted to enter an unoccupied structure on South Main Street prior to the shots being fired, and when noticed, fled to the home on 14th Street.
The affidavit also stated police found a 25-caliber gun in a white plastic bag stored inside a plastic tote underneath clothes in the laundry room of the home.
Sallis told police it was the gun he had fired on Monday, according to the affidavit.
He and Coles appeared in Columbiana County Municipal Court Tuesday and were found to be indigent.
Sallis pleaded not guilty to the charges while Coles did not enter a plea. Cash/surety bonds for both were set at $100,000 and preliminary hearings were scheduled for Aug. 8.
Scarabino says his officers were directed toward the home by witnesses in the neighborhood, whom he wished to thank for their cooperation. "I cannot express enough thanks to the residents of the village who were willing to stand up" and help police locate the suspects. He says it played a vital role for the officers, whom he also congratulated, in apprehending Coles and Sallis. According to Scarabino, the two were in police custody by 10:55 p.m.
"I'm proud of these guys," he said.
A few hours before the incident, Coles had appeared in Wellsville Magistrate Court, where he had pleaded no contest to criminal trespassing and not guilty to criminal damaging in a pair of unrelated incidents.
- Staff writer Katie Schwendeman