Shots Fired as Man Flees Court

BELLAIRE – A man identified as Sylvester Walker attempted to escape from Eastern Division Court this morning after having his bond revoked, forcing a sheriff’s deputy chasing him to shoot out the tires of the vehicle, according to police and several witnesses.

According to a witness in the courtroom, Judge John A. Vavra revoked Walker’s bond in court around 10 a.m. today and ordered that he be taken into custody. Walker, of Wheeling, fled the courtroom and attempted to leave the parking area in a black Fiat with Maryland license plates that was being driven by a female, a second witness said.

After issuing a verbal warning to the driver to stop, the Belmont County sheriff’s deputy fired two shots at the vehicle, flattening the tire. As the deputy pursued Walker, the two struggled and the suspect slipped out of his shirt.

Walker ran from the scene with deputies in pursuit near the Bellaire High School football field. He ran into a nearby creek, where he was apprehended and taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies.

The female suspect, who Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk identified only as Walker’s girlfriend, was taken into custody at the courthouse.

Attorney Tom Ryncarz said he had been appointed to represent Walker, but had not conferred with him prior to Vavra ordering he be incarcerated and Walker’s subsequent attempted escape.

Officers from the Bellaire, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry and Shadyside police departments converged on the area along with additional Belmont County Sheriff’s deputies. A brief foot pursuit ensued and deputies apprehended the man near a creek adjacent to the court parking lot area. He was transported to the Belmont County Jail.

Police secured the scene around the car with yellow police tape. Officials from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations also have been called in to investigate. Bellaire police are handling the investigation.