Columbus, Ohio, rocked by two suspects shot in eight hours

Theodore Decker and John Futty, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Copyright 2006 The Columbus Dispatch
All Rights Reserved 

Columbus police said they shot a robbery suspect running from a home on the Far West Side early yesterday when he came out a back door with a gun.

It was the second police shooting in about eight hours. The earlier, unrelated shooting occurred when police tried to stop a man in a van on the East Side. He then crashed the van near Bexley.

Both men were at Grant Medical Center yesterday and were expected to live.

Police were withholding the name of the robbery suspect, who was shot as he fled a house at 1048 Greeley Dr., but relatives identified him as

27-year-old Jeffery Skaggs.

He was in serious condition yesterday after surgery, said his sister, Barb Rogers of Grove City.

Police said Officer Scott Siford, 36, who has been with the division nine years, shot the robbery suspect.

Skaggs is a West High School dropout, his sister said. He was released from Ross Correctional Institution in January 2005 after serving more than five years for felonious assault, according to state prison records. He had not been charged with a crime as of last night.

"He promised us all he was going to do right after prison, live the way our parents raised us," Rogers said. "His full intention was to stay out of trouble."

She said he earned a high-school equivalency certificate in prison and had various jobs after his release.

"No matter how hard he tried, he got in with the wrong crowd," she said. "It blows me away that such a smart person can make these kinds of decisions."

She said the family doesn't blame police for what happened.

"If I saw someone with a weapon pulled, I'd defend myself," Rogers said. "I can't imagine a police officer is any different."

Police said they were called to the Greeley Drive house, near Hall and Norton roads, at 1:50 a.m. yesterday.

A woman who identified herself as the girlfriend of the man in the house called 911 from a nearby convenience store and said two men, one with a gun, had kicked in the front door. She said she was outside when she saw the men force their way into the house while two women waited in a car parked around the corner.

Officers were nearby and surrounded the home, said Officer Betty Schwab, a division spokeswoman. Then, a man with a gun came out a back door. Siford fired once, striking the man in the upper body.

Police arrested Eric J. Lairson, 28, as he came out the front door. He was charged with complicity to aggravated robbery.

They stopped a car on Hall Road and charged the two women in it -- Sarah Pack, 24, and Jennifer Samples, 21 -- with complicity to aggravated robbery.

The 911 caller identified the robbery victim as Scott Shreve, who owns the home, according to Franklin County tax records. Police would not name the victim, but they said he was treated at a hospital for slight injuries and released.

A man said through a door at the home yesterday that he didn't want to comment.

Also yesterday, police identified those involved in Tuesday's shooting.

Tavares L. Hall Jr., 23, was shot in the upper body in a van in the 2900 block of Bellwood Avenue. Hall had not been charged with a crime last night.

Police said he refused to stop for officers at 5th and Cassady avenues about 5:30 p.m.

Schwab said officers tried to stop Hall because they thought a female passenger might be "in some sort of peril," though Schwab said she didn't know what led officers to think that.

After the van sped away, it slowed, and the woman got out. The van drove into a yard at a dead end and got stuck in the mud.

Witnesses said an officer fired through the van's rear window after another officer tried to open the driver's door and slid under the vehicle.

Police identified the officer who shot Hall as Benjamin M. Rohaly, 31, and the other officer as Stephen E. Oboczky, 26. Rohaly has been with the division for five years and Oboczky for two.

A bystander was struck in the stomach by a bullet that ricocheted but did not break his skin. Police refused to identify him, saying he was not seriously hurt and was not involved in the chase.

The shootings were the third and fourth by Columbus police officers this year. No one has been killed.


May 25, 2006


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