01/02/2008

Pittsburgh man arrested after trying to run down officers

By Michael A. Fuoco
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh police officer who responded to a domestic violence call at a Wendy's restaurant in Westwood fired his weapon five times at a car that attempted to run down officers on foot, police reported.

No one was injured in the incident at 5:20 p.m. Monday or in a subsequent car chase that culminated in the arrest of James Rossell, 61, of Roundtop Street, Crafton Heights. He faces a variety of criminal charges and motor vehicle violations, said Cmdr. Scott Schubert of the West End station.

Mr. Rossell's wife, Susan, who had initially called police to report her husband had slapped her in the face, showed no visible signs of a physical altercation, Cmdr. Schubert said. Officers likewise took her into custody after learning she was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant for domestic violence.

According to Cmdr. Schubert, the following occurred:

Police were dispatched to the restaurant for a report of an inebriated man who struck a woman. Upon arriving, an officer spotted Mr. Rossell operating a vehicle that struck a parked, unattended car and drove off. The officer pursued Mr. Rossell's car, which stopped only when it pulled behind a car at a stop sign.

At the same time, two officers in a police wagon that also was dispatched to the scene approached Mr. Rossell's stopped car from the opposite direction. They got out of their vehicle and began walking toward Mr. Rossell's car.

However, Mr. Rossell ignored their verbal commands, put his vehicle in reverse, struck a business sign just off the road and lurched forward toward them. One officer had to jump out of the way of the oncoming car while the other officer fired his weapon five times, striking the car's hood and bumper.

The officers pursued Mr. Rossell's vehicle for several blocks. He stopped at Behrens Street and Whist Way, backed up again and almost hit the police wagon before coming to a stop. Officers ordered him out of the vehicle but he ignored them, not even looking their way.

Officers then broke both the passenger side and driver's side windows and pulled Mr. Rossell out of the vehicle and arrested him.

Officers reported Mr. Rossell had the appearance of being intoxicated but refused to submit to a test and was taken to the Allegheny County Jail.

He was charged with aggravated assault, fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest, driving under the influence and a number of motor vehicle violations, including having a suspended driver's license.

Copyright 2007 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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