The Portsmouth Police Department is investigating a host of serious events that occurred late Wednesday and overnight into Thursday morning..
Beginning at about 7:35 p.m. Wednesday night officers were called to a possible methamphetamine lab located in the garage at the rear of 2008 Eighth St. Lieutenant Cory Sommers parked a short distance away and walked to the garage in the alley undetected. According to Operations Captain Lynn Brewer, Sommers verified criminal indicators that led him to believe that methamphetamine was being manufactured in the garage.
Sommers reportedly called for backup and when additional officers arrived they approached the garage again and said they could observe additional criminal indicators through a partially opened garage door.
The garage and its occupants were secured and the owner of the garage gave officers consent to search the building. Officers located what they said appeared to be four separate methamphetamine cooks being done inside the garage. Officers Jacob Newman and Mike Queen, who are specially trained in dismantling meth labs, were called to the scene to dismantle the lab and make the area safe for residents.
The Portsmouth Fire Department along with a crew from Life Medical Response stood by to provide emergency assistance to officers while they dismantled the lab, should it be needed.
Mitchell Hammond, 61, of 2008 Eighth St., Portsmouth and Ricky L. Moore, 34, of 218 Carroll St., West Portsmouth, were both arrested by police and charged with illegal manufacture of drugs, a felony of the second degree, illegal possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, a felony of the third degree and possessing criminal tools, a felony of the fifth degree.
Both men were transported to the Scioto County Jail. The charges carry a total penalty of up to 14 years in prison and fines totaling up to $27,500 if convicted on all charges.
Brewer said the case will be presented to the Scioto County grand jury where additional charges will be considered along with an endangering children enhancement due to the number of children who live in close proximity to the garage.
At about 10:39 p.m. officers of the Police Department were called to 1713 Sixth St. to investigate a report of a man having his throat cut. Brewer said upon officers arrival they located Jonathan Anderson sitting on the porch holding a towel to his throat.
Anderson reportedly told officers that the girl he had recently broken up with was on the front porch of a residence at 1731 Sixth St. with her new boyfriend. Anderson said that she kept walking back and forth in front of his residence trying to agitate him.
Anderson said the he went down there to talk to her and tell her to quit and her new boyfriend police identified as Rodney Blankenship, came off the porch towards him and swung something shiny at him. Anderson said he did not see what it was but noticed his throat immediately began to feel like it was burning.
Brewer said Anderson told officers he pulled his knife from his pocket for defense and retreated to his residence where Portsmouth Ambulance was called to the scene to provide emergency treatment to the victim. Anderson was initially transported to Southern Ohio Medical Center and then transferred to the trauma unit at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Officers took statements from the witnesses at the scene and after interviewing the suspect, Blankenship, 34, of 5431 Pond Creek Bear Run, West Portsmouth, was charged with felonious assault a felony of the second degree. He was transported to the Scioto County Jail where he was held for arraignment on the charge. The case will be presented to the Scioto County grand jury for consideration of indictment.
Blankenship faces up to eight years in prison, and a fine of up to $15,000 if convicted.
Around 2:05 a.m., Portsmouth Police responded to a call of a subject having been assaulted at Noggins Bar.
Brewer said officers found James Goble, 23, of South Shore, Kentucky bleeding heavily from the face. Goble was unable to speak with officers due to the extent of his injuries. He was transported to Southern Ohio Medical Center by Life Medical Response and was transferred to the trauma unit at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Brewer said witnesses told officers that Goble was involved in a fight with at least two males, on the patio outside Noggins Bar. The two males were said to have fled the area in a gray colored vehicle that had only one tail light. It is unknown at this time what caused the fight.
Officers have identified two subjects of interest but their names are not being released at this time. Brewer went on to say the investigation is continuing and anyone who may have information that could assist in the investigation is asked to call the Portsmouth Police Department at 740-353-4101 or the Detective Bureau at 740-354-1600.
Officers were not done for the night. They were also called to assist at the scene of an early morning fire at 2337 Grant St.
In the daylight, a sign appeared in the front of the house that read – “Arson – a reward up to $5,000.”
“It’s a house they turned into two apartments,” Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison said. “There were three people living upstairs, two people living downstairs.”
Raison said the occupants upstairs had to climb out an upstairs window onto the porch. The downstairs occupants also got out of the house.
“There was heavy damage to the house,” Raison said.
Raison said the fire broke out between 3:15 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Thursday.
“It appears to be an intentionally set fire,” Raison said. “We’ve actually posted the house as a suspected arson.”
Raison did not have a list of the occupants from the fire.
By the early hours of daylight, investigators were at the scene looking for evidence. Investigators from the Portsmouth Fire Department, including Raison and Bob Long, were joined by investigators from the Fire Marshal’s Office.
The crime of arson is intentionally burning a building. Often, however, the act of intentionally burning a building creates serious risk of harm to people as well. Aggravated arson is the crime of creating a substantial risk of serious physical harm to a person other than the arsonist.
Penalties for Ohio arson and aggravated arson charges. For fourth degree or third degree felony arson, the penalty is 6 months to five years in jail, with fines of up to $10,000. For a second degree or first degree aggravated felony arson, the penalty is two to 10 years in prison, with fines of up to $20,000.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.