LISBON - Charges are expected to be filed after a vehicle full of young adults armed with a shotgun were stopped while riding around Elkrun Township at 4 a.m. Sunday in a suspected poaching "hot spot" area.
Columbiana County sheriff's deputy Brandon Hoppel was patrolling the area of Lusk Lock and Fairmont roads when he saw a vehicle with a steady beam of light coming from the passenger side. He said the area is known as a poaching hot spot, and the sheriff's office had received an earlier call about someone shining a spotlight at wildlife and hearing gunshots.
As the vehicle approached, the deputy activated the cruiser lights and pulled in front of the vehicle. As Hoppel approached the vehicle, he saw four people inside and a long gun being raised between the front seats. This prompted him to draw his handgun and order the person to drop the weapon and for everyone to raise their hands so he could see them.
The vehicle occupants complied, and the deputy then told the person who had been holding the weapon to get out, which he did. The person was searched and handcuffed, with the procedure repeated on the others until they were all secured.
Hoppel then retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun with a round in the breach but it was not chambered. Also found in the vehicle were several shell casings and live rounds and a Brinkman QBeam spotlight.
Meanwhile, a second deputy, Kip Dowling, arrived to assist.
The vehicle occupants were identified as: Nathan Schultz, 19, Park Court, Columbiana; Kyle E. Melott, 18, Ridge Street, Leetonia; George M. Love, 20, of New Springfield; and Angela Morris, 18, Crestview Road, New Waterford.
The men told the deputy they had been driving around and shooting at deer, raccoons and opossums since about 9 p.m. and later picked up Morris. Schultz denied shooting the gun or holding the spotlight since he was doing the driving.
Hoppel called the local state game warden, who told him to confiscate the weapon, shells and spotlight, and release the youths until a decision is made on what charges to file.