Man in custody, suspected of church vandalism and shooting state trooper's car, 3 BMV locations

Man in custody, suspected of church vandalism and shooting state trooper's car, 3 BMV locations

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Uniontown police took a person of interest into custody Tuesday morning in connection to a string of recent shootings and vandalism.

According to Uniontown police, 49-year-old Richard Rhodes was arrested during a traffic stop early Tuesday morning. Police say Rhodes admitted to:

  • A handcrafted wood cross that stood in front of St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church on South Sawburg Avenue in Alliance was damaged on Sunday morning.
  • The priests at St. Nikolai Orthodox Church on State Street NE in Louisville discovered damage caused by a chainsaw to a cross at the church. The damages at the church are estimated to cost $75,000.
  • The windows at Hartville Hardware were shot out just before midnight on Monday. The incident was the second time the store was recently damaged.
  • Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers were notified just after midnight Tuesday morning that the windows at the BMV located at 650 Graham Road in Cuyahoga Falls were shot out.
  • As one of the investigating troopers was preparing to respond from the Canton patrol post, he noticed his patrol car windshield and grill were shot while parked at the station.
  • The OSHP contacted the Stark County Sheriff's Office to inform them of the investigation. The sheriff's office then confirmed to OSHP that they were investigating a similar incident. The windows at the North Canton BMV location at 3195 Whitewood Street were also shot out.
  • As the investigation continued, state troopers were later told about the third BMV location with windows that were damaged by gunfire. According to the OSHP, the Barberton BMV located on 175th Street SE were shot out.

Police say Uniontown officers pulled over a white Ford Ranger in Lake Township that matched the vehicle description. Police recovered a loaded .22 caliber rifle and 51 spent .22 caliber shell casings. During questioning, Rhodes admitted to the crimes in surrounding areas, which started on Sunday night.

Rhodes has been charged with felonious assault, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, vandalizing an occupied structure, receiving stolen property, and discharging a firearm near a prohibited premise. He was booked into the Stark County jail.

The highway patrol and local law enforcement agencies are coordinating together with the continuing investigation.

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