HUBBARD, Ohio (WYTV) – Shots were fired at a Hubbard police officer on Tuesday, but he was not hit.
The officer had pulled a car over for a traffic violation on West Liberty Street in Hubbard, right across from the police station, about 11:30 a.m. That is when the passenger, Jeffrey Irby, 26, of Fort Wayne, Ind., fled on foot.
The officer, D.J. Dripps, started chasing him on a nearby street and the suspect opened fire, according to police. Officers are unsure how many shots were fired, but said it was more than three, but less than seven or eight. Police said Irby was taking off his clothes as he ran.
Neighboring police departments and the Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force responded to the call.
A perimeter was set up and police made contact with the suspect in the area of Hager Street and Clingan Street. Hubbard High School and Hubbard Elementary School were placed on lockdown for about 30 minutes while the pursuit was taking place.
Hubbard Police Chief James Taafe said the plan was to contain Irby and call the Violent Crimes Task Force for the S.W.A.T. team to go through the wooded area to find him, but he surrendered. Police said Irby’s Taurus .40-caliber handgun was still loaded when he was arrested.
Crime scene tape stretched up several blocks on West Liberty Street. Irby took off running from the Circle K store and ran through the back yards along Hager Street.
Residents on Hager Street said they heard between four and six gunshots and then saw the suspect running through backyards, with officers in pursuit.
“I was kind of surprised to hear gunshots out here, caught me off guard,” William File said.
“I am sitting in the living room drinking a cup of coffee and I heard four shots. The time it took me to get from the living room to the back door, I saw the suspect running through the driveway with a gun in his hand,” Jason Findley said. “That does not happen in Hubbard. You don’t hear gunshots coming from your back door when the police station is two blocks away. It was kind of unordinary, but it was kind of scary.”
Police said Irby crossed Church Street and Clingan Street and hid under a truck cap in the back of a garage, which is where Daniel Dundon stumbled onto him.
“I walked over there and that is when he came out from underneath the truck cap. He told me he was from Indiana, said he wanted a ride. I told him to wait right there and then I flagged the officer down out here and they caught him down the road a little bit,” Dundon said.
Irby was caught on Tylee Lane in the back yard of Vicki and Ken Bednar, who took pictures of the arrest. The couple said nothing like this ever happens in Hubbard.
“We were in the house keeping watch. If we saw anything, we were going to report it, but there were so many police officers here, you can’t feel much safer than that,” Ken Bednar said. “Next thing I know, I am looking out the back, one of the perpetrators ran down through the backyard, dropped in the middle of my backyard and laid on the ground. And five police officers were there in 2 seconds.”
Irby is charged with felonious assault, improper handling of a firearm and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
The driver of the car, Jason Duecaster, 30, of Steel Street in Youngstown, was arrested on charges of felonious assault, improper handling of a firearm and driving under suspension.
Both are being processed at the Hubbard City Jail, but will be taken to the Trumbull County Jail pending their arraignment Wednesday morning in Girard Municipal Court.
This is the second time in recent weeks that a suspect is accused of firing at police. Cody Dempsey, 25, died after police shot him following a pursuit on Route 11 in Liberty on Sept. 26.
Officers started chasing Dempsey after they spotted him driving a stolen car. The incident is still under investigation.