Details of Incident That Sparked Police Situation in Clarion Released
CLARION TWP., Pa. (EYT) – Details have been released on an incident that sparked a lengthy police situation in Clarion County, resulting in multiple school cancellations and the closure of U.S. Route 322.
(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)
Court documents indicate the Clarion-based State Police filed criminal charged against 29-year-old James Ledos Cunningham, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
According to a criminal complaint, on Tuesday, September 17, Clarion-based State Police received a call from a known individual who stated she received multiple concerning text messages from her sister. In the messages, her sister said she was with her boyfriend, James Cunningham, and he was going to kill himself. The individual was concerned for her sister’s safety and indicated her sister needed immediate police assistance.
According to the complaint, it was reported that Cunningham and a known female were in a white Subaru Legacy on Old U.S. 322 in Clarion Township, near Piney Dam, which leads to a boat launch and parking lot for access to the Clarion River. The individual reported the woman pinned the location on her phone and forwarded it. It was also reported that Cunningham was refusing to admit himself into the Clarion Psychiatric Center.
While speaking with the individual, Trooper Reilly received a call from Trooper Owen of the Franklin-based State Police. Trooper Owen related that Cunningham’s mother was currently reporting that her revolver was stolen by Cunningham. The handgun was described as a silver and pink .38 revolver.
The complaint notes that further investigation revealed that Cunningham was entered into the NCIC as a wanted person for failure to appear on misdemeanor charges filed in Venango County.
Trooper Reilly was then contacted by the known individual again, and the individual related the known female sent a text message confirming that Cunningham had a gun.
Troopers were then dispatched to the scene along Old U.S. 322. Troopers on-scene requested that Trooper Reilly contact the known female and have her leave Cunningham if she could, or attempt to have Cunningham speak to them. The female indicated that Cunningham refused to talk to anyone but her, and when asked if she could drive away, she stated that if she left, Cunningham would kill himself.
According to the complaint, while speaking to the known female in the vehicle, Cunningham became agitated and walked away from the vehicle. The woman related that Cunningham was currently by the river and “had the gun out.” Trooper Reilly then told the woman if she was able to walk away, she needed to walk to the troopers at the scene. The woman then started walking and said that Cunningham began following her with the gun.
The woman was able to make contact with troopers at the scene. While walking to the troopers, the woman related that Cunningham was supposed to go to the Clarion Psychiatric Center around 3:00 p.m. and that they “had an open bed for him and were expecting him.” She also verified that Cunningham was in possession of a handgun.
According to the complaint, at that point, Cunningham did not make contact with the troopers and his location was unknown.
Around 9:07 p.m., notifications were made requesting SERT Special Emergency Response Team and a Pennsylvania State Police Aviation Unit to respond to the scene to help in locating Cunningham.
Trooper Bauer was contacted at 9:11 p.m. and requested an emergency mental health examination for the suspect. Contact was made with Clarion County Crisis at 9:50 p.m., a mobile crisis worker reported to the Clarion-based State Police barracks at 10:40 p.m., and an involuntary 302 warrant was approved.
Troopers were able to secure the white Subaru on Old U.S. 322 on Wednesday, September 18, and a black 9mm handgun, registered to the known woman, was located inside the vehicle.
The woman said that Cunningham remained in possession of the snub-nosed .38 revolver he had stolen from his mother.
The situation came to an end when Cunningham was finally taken into custody around 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 18.
The incident resulted in the closure of U.S. Route 322 between Shippenville and Clarion for nearly 12 hours.
Cunningham was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Duane L. Quinn at 3:15 p.m. on September 18, on the following charges:
– Possession Of Firearm Prohibited
– Receiving Stolen Property, Felony 2
– Flight To Avoid Apprehension/Trial/Punishment, Felony 3
– Firearms Not To Be Carried Without License, Felony 3
Unable to post $150,000.00 monetary bail, he was lodged in the Clarion County Jail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 1, with Judge Quinn presiding.
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