New Castle News

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September 20, 2012

Photos, Story: Police raid apartment via front-end loader

NEW CASTLE — A Crestview Gardens maintenance worker learned shortly after arriving at work Wednesday that he would have a new task.

He’d have to see about replacing two windows in a second-floor apartment, shattered by New Castle police when they forced their way in shortly after 9 a.m.

Three officers in the scoop of a front-end loader were lifted to the second floor of the two-story building at 1138 Parkwood Court. They smashed the windows, climbed into a bedroom and arrested two women, the sole occupants.

One was lying in bed, the other was exiting a bathroom when they were surprised by their drop-in visitors.

The officers, carrying a sealed search warrant for suspected drug activity, recovered about 55 pills believed to be Xanax, a 1.1-gram bag of cocaine with street value of around $100, a smaller bag of marijuana and about $900.

They also found an empty gun box for a Ruger, two boxes of .40-caliber rounds and a plastic bag with suspected marijuana seeds.

“This is an everyday thing,” said one neighbor who stood outside watching.

She indicated drug raids are common in the privately owned housing project, where multiple arrests and shootings over drugs occur often.

What was unusual was the police using a front-end loader to gain access.

“I just heard the vehicles coming through the yard and I came outside to watch,” another bystander said. He has lived at Crestview several years but stays inside and keeps to himself, he said.

None of the bystanders would identify themselves, citing safety reasons.

The police learned through intelligence that the apartment door had been bolstered shut to prevent entry — fortified by multiple two-by-fours braced into steel brackets connected to the door frame.

“One of our officers has a commercial driver’s license and can drive a backhoe,” District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa explained, so three members of the city’s assault team, dressed in fatigues, protective gear and helmets, devised the window entry.

They handcuffed the two women then secured the bedrooms before initiating a search of the home, Lamancusa said. The detail was a joint operation of the Lawrence County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force and the New Castle police narcotics unit.

Lamancusa said the initiative was prompted by a citizen complaint of suspected drug activity.

“This is just another example of the things we can do when the community continues to be involved with the local law enforcement efforts.”

He noted that after each drug raid in the community, calls flood in to the Drug Task Force toll-free hotline number, (855) 564-6116, from people wanting to report other activity.

According to Lamancusa, one of the women arrested had just been hired at Southpoint at Jameson, a personal care home at Jameson Hospital South. He placed a call to her new employer Wednesday afternoon.

The other woman, whom Lamancusa said had come here from Detroit, was administered oxygen by an ambulance crew and later treated at Jameson Hospital for an apparent anxiety attack.

Arrested were Kimberly Jackson, 25, the listed tenant at the apartment, and Katrina Randle, 29, whose home address is Detroit.

They are charged with possession of controlled substances, possession with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.

They were arraigned Wednesday night by District Judge Jerry Cartwright and lodged in the Lawrence County jail. Cartwright set Jackson’s bond at $10,000 and Randle’s at $20,000.

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