Juveniles Held After Shots Fired in Bellaire

BELLAIRE – Two juveniles are in the Sargus Juvenile Center after law enforcement from across Belmont County responded to a report of several shots fired Friday in Bellaire.

Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk responded to a report of shots fired at 4305 Franklin St. at about 2 p.m. Friday. Kovalyk said shots were fired into the upstairs window of the home, where two children were playing. He said the shots traveled through the window and through a door. Four bullet holes can be seen in that window.

As he was photographing the scene, Kovalyk said he was approached by a neighbor, who said while they did not see anything, they did hear what they believed to be five shots in the area. It was then he heard an additional four shots in an alley between Franklin and Harrison streets.

“I was the only one on the original call,” Kovalyk said. “As I was leaving, because there were no suspects and nobody was injured, I heard the additional shots.”

Kovalyk called for backup, and he and a responding Bridgeport police officer searched the alley for any sign of a shooter.

“That’s where we end up with neighbors recovering shell casings and we found out who the individuals were,” he said.

Additional units from the Bridgeport, Shadyside and Martins Ferry police departments, as well as the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department and Ohio State Highway Patrol responded to the area and assisted in the search. Teams of officers searched the exterior of a home in the 4300 block of Harrison St., as well as the back yards of several homes in an alley. The search eventually shifted to the 4100 block of Franklin Street, where officers searched the perimeter of a home.

Kovalyk said before 5 p.m., two juveniles were taken into custody for their alleged involvement in the shootings. Additionally, officers seized a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition. He said the shell casings and bullets found in the area were a match with the recovered gun.

While additional information regarding possible charges against the juveniles was not available Friday, Kovalyk said he believes the suspects are also connected to a shooting at the same residence on July 22. The investigation into both matters are ongoing.

The neighborhood is an all-too-familiar stop for officers, as in addition to the two shootings in less than two weeks, a drug-related drive-by shooting took place in February 2013. Kovalyk said that incident – in which nearly 12 shell casings were found in the Franklin Street area – ended with a pursuit into Wheeling and involved individuals from the Cleveland area.

“It’s the same residence, but the same people are not living there today,” he said. “It’s been an area of violence and drug activity.”