MEADVILLE — Click here to read police report on manhunt
Andrea Ritter and Ron Confer said they were doing yard work outside their home at the corner of Greendale and State streets on Wednesday afternoon when the manhunt for Keith D. Green - a suspect described as armed and dangerous - came through their usually-quiet neighborhood. "We saw a (police) helicopter first," Confer said, "then all kinds of cops flying up and down the street" as investigators launched search efforts in and around nearby Greendale Cemetery. It was "kind of weird (to see that) right here in Meadville," Confer said, and "it kind of worries me they didn't get him." Like the Confers, residents of Meadville and surrounding townships settled into an uneasy, watchful quiet Wednesday night after a five-hour manhunt ended in the late-afternoon after failing to turn up Green. He is wanted for felonies in Ohio, is considered armed and dangerous and has shown no hesitation to use deadly force against those who are out to bring him to justice. The manhunt shut down major roads in the city, put Allegheny College and First District Elementary School in lockdown mode and had law enforcers, guns drawn, on the prowl for most of the afternoon. Residents are warned to keep clear of Green and call Meadville police immediately at 724-6100 if they believe they have spotted him. Green is a 35-year-old white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing about 170 pounds. He has brown "buzz-cut" hair, brown eyes and tattoos on his right biceps and both shoulders. He was last seen wearing a tan-colored, long-sleeve T-shirt and purple sweat pants and may have had tan shorts on underneath the sweat pants. While Green avoided capture throughout the day, in a nighttime effort at about 9:30, emergency radio dispatches indicated a chase had begun near a ravine in the vicinity of Ben Avon Street and Woodland Place, just north of Allegheny Street and the college campus. A few minutes later, the person being pursued was apparently in the Meadow Street area. Officers were being staged on Allegheny Street to the south of that neighborhood, North Main Street to the east and in the vicinity of the Allegheny football field, Park Avenue, to the north. By 9:50 the area was busy with police activity, but radio dispatches were less frequent, and the scene appeared to be quiet from 10 p.m. on. As of presstime, police were not available to comment on details of that pursuit. How it began Meadville police were put on alert Tuesday at 5 p.m. by the Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office to be on the lookout for a white Lincoln sedan belonging to a South Main Street woman. The Sheriff¹s Office indicated Green may be using the car and that Green was wanted for burglary, theft and drug charges and for an incident where he exchanged gunfire with Conneaut, Ohio, police and escaped on a four-wheeler. Meadville Police Detective Eric Young remembered that the South Main Street woman mentioned by the Sheriff¹s Office has a sister living on Park Avenue. Green had been a suspect when her van was reported stolen last year. Acting on this information, police watched her address, 671 Park Ave., and eventually the Lincoln appeared there. Just after 11 a.m. on Wednesday as officers attempted to surround 671 Park Ave., Green fled from the rear of the residence. Officers did not see that he had a weapon. Loomis house searched As they searched the surrounding neighborhoods, an officer reported that the rear door of 320 Loomis St. appeared to be kicked in. Park and North Main Street were shut down as officers surrounded the house at about 11:45 a.m. A search turned up nothing. Meadville police, joined by state police, Crawford County Sheriff's Office, Crawford County Adult Probation Office, West Mead Township police, U.S. Marshals Service, agents with the state Attorney General¹s Office and Meadville Auxiliary Police, then headed several blocks north to the H. Paul Way public park and playground at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Limber Road. Based on information that Green frequented the park with a friend's children, they searched the area. While at the park, police received a tip that Green had been spotted on State Street just below Greendale Cemetery. When Meadville Police Sgt. Jeff LeGuard arrived at the scene, he also saw a man matching Green¹s description, however, at that point the man was wearing purple sweat pants, not tan shorts as officers had observed earlier. As LeGuard approached the man, he ran into a heavily wooded, deep ravine that runs along the east side of the cemetery, parallel to Route 77. Officers surrounded the ravine at about 2 p.m., and aided by a scent-sniffing dog and state police helicopter, conducted several sweeps of the area. At one point, there was a report of a man matching Green's description exiting the ravine onto playing fields near the Crawford County Fairgrounds, and police gave chase. At that point, the man ran back into the ravine. Police suspended the search around 4 p.m., but law enforcers maintained an active patrol in the area into the night. As of the Tribune's press deadline late Wednesday, Green remained on the run. Schools affected There were tense moments for many in Meadville as Wednesday's events unfolded. The college canceled all events and went into lockdown mode until this morning. Students were allowed to use dining halls but were advised to travel in groups and to return to their rooms immediately after eating. Off-campus students were advised to stay overnight with friends living on campus. First District Elementary School also locked down and Crawford Central School District officials were following police advice regarding security. As of the Tribune's late Wednesday deadline, no additional lockdowns were anticipated this morning, although all district personnel were advised to remain vigilant. Residents of the Park, Loomis, North Main and Greendale Cemetery neighborhoods reported police with weapons drawn searching the area and an intense police presence through the day. Schools as far away as Townville were eventually affected by the incident. "We started with a lockdown (about noon) just in the Saegertown attendance area, after (various law officers) notified the district of the nearby activity," said PENNCREST School District Superintendent Connie Youngblood. "But later we locked down all six schools" including two schools each in the Maplewood and Cambridge Springs attendance areas. Then even more difficult decisions had to be made. "About 3 p.m. and thinking about dismissal, we realized some bus runs might travel close to the Route 77 area (where the manhunt was in full activity) and decided to hold those two buses, from four schools," Youngblood said. "We held those students at their schools and called parents to ask them to pick up their children at the schools. "We make decisions like these based on the best information we have at any given time, and in general I think we can say parents were pleased with the decisions we made today." Andover sighting? Meanwhile, there was at least one report that Green was long gone from downtown Meadville. Andover Village Police Department Sgt. Chris Baker reported he received a call from an Andover-area thrift store around approximately 2 p.m. Wednesday indicating that staff members there believed they had seen a man who possibly fit the description of Green as provided on regional radio reports. The caller said the man - wearing a tan-colored shirt and appearing to be "really nervous" - had come into the store and purchased a white shirt with a green logo before leaving, according to Baker. "We don't have any positive (indication) this was (Green)," said Baker, but the description provided by the store's staff was "very similar" to the one provided by investigators, he said. No matter where Green may be, area officials are urging residents to be watchful and careful. And that¹s exactly how the couple who live literally next door to the search are proceeding. Heading into the evening hours with the suspect still at large, Ritter said, "we'll just keep our eyes open, and our doors locked as usual."