CANTON A Canton police officer shot a man wielding a baseball bat at him early Tuesday evening at a downtown homeless shelter.
The wounded man was transported to Aultman Hospital where his condition was listed as stable. He was shot in the abdomen when the situation escalated, according to Chief Bruce Lawver. The shooting occurred at about 6 p.m. Tuesday in the dining area of the Refuge of Hope at 405 Third St. NE.
The man, whom police did not identify on a written statement, swung the bat twice in attempts to strike the police officer. Canton police frequently provide security while meals are served at Refuge of Hope.
When contacted Tuesday, police Lt. Dan McCartney said the department was not ready to identify the police officer involved in the shooting nor the suspect with the baseball bat. Attempts to contact Canton police detectives Tuesday night were not successful.
Immediately after the shooting, the Refuge of Hope staff had plans to make arrangements to have residents of the homeless shelter spend the night elsewhere. However, by 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, residents were allowed to return the shelter.
"We were going to send our residents to a local church for this evening," JoAnn Carpenter, director of development for the Refuge of Hope, said. "They (police) are wrapping up their investigation. The men will be able to sleep here tonight."
This is the second Canton police shooting within a two-week period. Hayden Stutz, 24, was fatally shot by Canton police on May 24 while he was holding a woman captive in the 1300 block of 22nd Street NW.
The Refuge of Hope is the only homeless shelter for men in Stark County. The establishment also provides hot meals for the general public.
"Refuge of Hope will seamlessly continue to provide services and support to our residents," Carpenter said in a written statement. "We will be working with Crisis Intervention providing counseling to Refuge of Hope staff, residents, volunteers and dinner guests."
The man who allegedly swung the baseball bat toward the police officer is not a resident of Refuge of Hope. However, a man who identified himself as a Refuge of Hope resident said the suspect has been living at a nearby building in the 500 block of Third Street NE. That dilapidated structure appears to be an abandoned warehouse.
"That guy be sleeping outside that building every night," said Carl Pittman, who said he lives at the Refuge of Hope. "Every morning someone will stop there and give him a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Another couple comes by and gives him clothes. Another couple comes by and gives him change."
Police were outside the warehouse-like building gathering what appeared to be large plastic bags of personnel belongings. A police officer standing guard at the Refuge of Hope also said he understood the suspect had been living at the building.
While police were securing the homeless shelter, several men were standing outside in nearby parking lots. Two who were approached refused to discuss what they either saw or heard during the incident.