City police say they want to give the law-abiding residents of the drug-and-violence-plagued 600 block of Second Street some independence.
On a blistering day before the normally festive Fourth of July holiday weekend, several police from multiple agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service and state parole, backed up city codes enforcement officers as they went door-to-door in along a row of rental properties to do building inspections.
"We're here for the good tenants who are sick and tired of the illegal activities," said city Police Sgt. Jody Miller, following an investigation in which police used a canine from South Williamsport police and detected felony amounts of marijuana.
City codes inspectors, backed by law enforcement officers from several agencies went door-to-door at the rental properties on the 600 block of Second Street Thursday, site of a shooting Saturday and a discovery of illegal drugs, and captured two individuals sought by state parole agents.
Police also discovered two individuals who were wanted on state parole violation and took them into custody, Miller said.
A search warrant was issued for 625 Second St., while police from several agencies waited outside for the paperwork to arrive.
"It was a necessity that law enforcement support the good tenants while putting non-residents on notice," Miller said.
Last week, police arrested Marcellus Chavez Turner, 23, of 523 Fifth Ave., charging him with felony counts of possession of firearms and carrying a firearm without a license in connection to a shooting at 2:23 a.m. Saturday in which a man identified as Tevon Johnson was shot and taken from the 600 block on Second Street in a silver Chevrolet Captiva. Johnson was released several days later from Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
Security video from the street allegedly showed a fight that ended up in a three-way gunfire exchange between Johnson, Turner and an unidentified black male.
Turner has been committed to Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Police also responded to the city block at 5:38 p.m. Sunday and later arrested Rashaun Ruley, 26, of 1541 Memorial Ave. who allegedly had 110 baggies of heroin in the right pocket of his shorts and upon a later search police found a bag of marijuana in his underwear.
The Sun-Gazette learned Thursday eight known heroin dealers arrested recently were on probation at the time of their incarceration, according to officers with the county narcotics enforcement unit.
City police administration and Mayor Gabriel J. Campana were at the inspections.
"We're here checking out who should and should not be in the buildings," said city Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman.
"This sends the right message and image," said Campana, wearing a black pullover shirt with a public safety emblem on its chest.
City Codes Administrator Joseph Gerardi, who was in charge of the inspection of the properties, allegedly gave prior notice of the inspection and worked alongside the curious onlookers.
City Bureau of Fire Chief C. Dean Heinbach and Assistant Chief Todd Heckman remained on the block throughout the operation. Numerous examples of exploded fireworks littered the street on the block.
Backing up the inspectors and U.S. Marshals were officers with the Pennsylvania College of Technology police, state constables, county adult probation, county detectives, South Williamsport police, and state police.
It was quite a commotion, enough to cause a woman on a bicycle to be unsure whether to ride through the block, but she was told by a police officer it would be fine.