BELLAIRE - Police are investigating a home invasion in which four men allegedly forced their way into an apartment occupied by two women and a child.
According to Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk, the incident occurred just after 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Francis-Wallace Apartment Complex on 41st Street. He said the individuals knocked on the back door, which one of the females unlocked and opened slightly. The four individuals forced their way into the building, knocking the woman - who was holding a baby - to the ground.
Once inside, one of the suspects allegedly pointed a gun at the woman and child while the other three suspects took a purse and wallet from the residence. The individuals then escaped on foot.
"Luckily, we're fortunate there were no injuries to the females or the child," Kovalyk said.
The suspects were wearing heavy, dark clothing, ski masks and gloves, Kovalyk said, which did not allow for the victims to identify any unique characteristics. However, the group was later seen in a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed a block away from the apartment. Kovalyk said the description of that vehicle was somewhat similar to the description of a vehicle used in similar incidents that have taken place in the village over the past few days, all in the same general area of town.
Two of the incidents took place Jan. 16, the first near 34th and Noble streets when a man wielding a box-cutter demanded money from a woman. The second incident took place less than three hours later near 42nd and Noble streets, during which a juvenile was approached by a man who claimed to have a gun and demanded money and other items.
A third incident was reported Saturday night after an individual was struck by a car on Belmont Street. The driver of the vehicle allegedly exited and used a box-cutter to demand money from the victim.
Kovalyk said there is no immediate connection to be made among the three cases, other than the use of a box-cutter. However, he said the first three incidents appear to be crimes of opportunity.
"It's just that people are more brazen," he said. "People are walking by themselves at night and there's an opportunity."
However, Kovalyk said Monday's home invasion initially appears to be a planned attack on individuals known by the suspects.
"They may have been targeted, and we're looking into that," he said, adding an acquaintance of the females was the cause for such suspicion.
Kovalyk said anyone with information on any of the incidents should contact the Bellaire Police Department by calling 740-676-3322.
"No matter how small it may seem, if you think we need to know it, give us a call," he said.