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Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to head hostage probe at Trumbull jail

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WARREN, Ohio -  The “pod” inside the Trumbull County jail where three inmates held a guard hostage sits untouched since the five hour ordeal ended on Wednesday.  The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department has sealed off the area in order to allow the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to get what’s described as a “complete look” at it as the bureau begins its probe into how the inmates were able to obtain a homemade weapon and subdue the guard who was eventually released unharmed.

At a news conference Thursday, Trumbull Sheriff Tom Altiere thanked the more than 100 officers who responded to the situation and credited the thousands of hours of police training that led to a peaceful resolution. 

21 News Reporter Matt Stone asked how inmates accused or convicted of serious crimes like murder and kidnapping were left out in the open to jump the guard.  Altiere said the county is required to follow state standards for the operation of the jail. ”We can’t put these guys on 24 hour lockdown, the state says we’re not allowed to do that,” Altiere said.

Altiere also told reporters the investigation “is not an event that we can come out and say is closed, this is a process.” 

The three inmates, David Martin, 29, of Cleveland, Kevin Johns, 24, of Cincinnati and Richard Ware, 27, of Warren were all transferred to Youngstown’s Supermax prison after the incident.  That was one of their demands for ending the hostage situation. Altiere said their only other demand was for cigarettes.

Martin is awaiting trial for the 2012 murder of Jeremy Cole of Warren and the charge could bring the death penalty.  Sheriff Altiere described Martin as a “career criminal” and “a bad person.”

The Sheriff defended his department’s handling of the situation and said officers followed every protocol they should have and “didn’t do anything wrong.”  He said with inmates being confined 24/7,  they “can dream up anything.”

Altiere said the homemade weapon or “shank” held at the guard’s neck was plastic and may have come from the jail.   He also added that while he has discussed the case with the county prosecutor, they haven’t discussed specific charges against the inmates because the investigation is still in its initial stages.

The corrections officer taken hostage, Joe Lynn, is on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in cases like this.   Altiere said Lynn has been with the department a little over a year and described him as “intelligent and articulate” and said the officer did a very good job and “is doing fine.”

Altiere said he expects Lynn will not be reassigned when he returns and said all of the officers involved in the hostage situation know that “when you get into law enforcement, there are risks you have to take and unfortunately, this is one of the consequences that can happen.”

The surveillance tape of the incident is now in the hands of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. 21 News attempted to secure a copy of the tape.  We were told it is not public record right now since it is considered an investigatory tool.  We’ll continue to request access to the video.

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