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‘We suspected that they may not go peacefully’

The off-duty Dayton police sergeant who located two Columbus teenagers wanted in connection with multiple homicides and a carjacking was going to go to a neighborhood cleanup Saturday morning.

But rain showers canceled that event and Dayton Sgt. John Riegel instead drove his personal vehicle to a northwest Dayton house that Columbus police suspected the teens would visit. Once there, Riegel found Nathaniel Brunner, 18, and Devonere Simmonds, 17, asleep in a still-running stolen vehicle with a weapon between them on the car seat.

Riegel said he called for backup and the situation ended peacefully after multiple officers drew their guns on the pair as police delivered a wake-up call to the occupants of the 2006 silver Dodge Magnum.

“Twenty officers approached and came up with a hasty plan to do a takedown as safe as possible and take them into custody,” Riegel said. “I think it probably was a shock to them. I’m glad they were asleep. We suspected that they may not go peacefully and we were prepared for that… . Our belief was they were going to commit more violent crimes against an unsuspecting public.”

Instead, the drowsy duo were quiet during their respective police cruiser rides downtown and appeared to fall asleep on the way. Riegel said he went back to the rear alley of 38 Wroe Ave. because he and another officer had been watching the house.

“The Columbus (police) homicide department, they’re the ones that did all the work,” said Riegel, recently appointed to supervise the Neighborhood Problem Solving Initiative Task Force and a SWAT team member. “We just got lucky and happened to take them down safely. I had suspected that they would come back at one point because they had been in this area before.”

Columbus law enforcement officers left Montgomery County Jail early Monday afternoon with Brunner. Simmonds, who lived briefly in Dayton, is to be transported on Tuesday. The pair are suspects in multiple Columbus homicides and an early Saturday morning carjacking at the Travel-Centers of America truck stop on Interstate 70.

On Monday morning officials said an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper who dropped off the suspects minutes before they allegedly shot a man in the head and stole his car was placed on administrative leave. Jeff Shane, a 29-year veteran of the state patrol, will remain on leave while the incident is investigated.

Cruiser cam video shows the pair being led through the rain and placed into police cars. Simmonds spells his name and gives his birth date to an officer. Simmonds was quiet and appeared drowsy while the cruiser drove to the police station. Brunner asked officers, “So what am I going down for?” before he appeared to fall asleep and then was asked to exit the police cruiser.

In interviews with the Columbus Dispatch, Simmonds’ mother, Maya Foster, said her son got into trouble in Columbus and that’s why he lived in Dayton before also getting into trouble here.

A Montgomery County Juvenile Court official said Simmonds had been locked up and on probation for an aggravated robbery and for carrying a concealed weapon. The first time Simmonds was on probation with supervision was June 2012. Simmonds was locked up from February to May of this year when his case was transferred to Franklin County.

Simmonds and Brunner are suspected to have been involved in a carjacking and near-fatal shooting earlier Saturday morning in Madison County, west of Columbus. The OSHP has confirmed it started when Shane picked up the teens just minutes before the shooting and apparently had dropped them off at the TA truck stop on I-70.

Lt. Anne Ralston of the OSHP said standard operating procedure would be for a trooper to pat down anyone being given a ride and run their names through state databases. It would appear that wasn’t done.

Within five minutes of the trooper dropping off the suspects, one of the two teens is suspected of firing a shot into the head of a man pumping gas, and then taking his car.

The man was fueling his vehicle at the TA truck stop at I-70 and U.S. 42 about 4:50 a.m. Saturday when two black males approached him. Deputies said the man, William Joseph Rudd, resisted.

“This is a very serious situation and we are investigating it thoroughly,” Ralston said. Other authorities said the two men had been walking along the interstate ramp at Rt. 42 and I-70 near the truck stop and that’s where the state trooper had contact with them.

Columbus police believe the teens are connected to three homicides in the metro area within the last week. The crime spree began last Sunday with the shooting of two victims on Lilley Avenue in Columbus. One victim died and the other remains in critical condition. Then on Wednesday, police say the pair shot and killed a clerk at a carry out store.

Simmonds was charged in that shooting death Wednesday of Imran Ashgar, 34, at the Convenient Plus Food Mart at 1475 E. Livingston Ave., after he was identified in surveillance video of the incident, police said.

Late Friday night, authorities charged Brunner with that same shooting death.

Simmonds’ mother told authorities that he confessed to her that he was also involved in a double shooting last Sunday. And he also is wanted for questioning in connection with the shooting death of Lamont Frazier, 17, who was shot hours after Ashgar in the same neighborhood.

There were several witnesses as well as surveillance video at the travel plaza where the teens allegedly shot Rudd and stole his car Saturday morning. Rudd is expected to survive. Columbus police said the suspects had family or friends at the home in Dayton where they were located early Saturday morning.

Columbus police said prosecutors will determine whether Simmonds will be charged as an adult.

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