Summit County OH April 27 2017A 26-year-old Akron man is accused of trying to get into the Summit County Courthouse and the county jail several times while carrying a firearm and accompanied by children in handcuffs, authorities said.
The man claimed he was part of a Scared Straight program. Authorities are now trying to locate the children involved.
“The children didn’t seem to be under any duress,” sheriff’s spokesman Bill Holland said Tuesday. “We’re trying to find the identity of the children and find out exactly what is going on.”
Christopher S. Hendon is charged with four counts of illegal conveyance of a deadly weapon into a courthouse, four counts of criminal trespass and four counts of impersonating a peace officer.
The impersonation and weapons charges are third-degree and fifth-degree felonies, respectively, while the trespassing charge is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
He is being held at the Summit County Jail.
Attorney Don Hicks confirmed Tuesday that he will represent Hendon but said he had not yet met with his client.
Holland said it’s unclear whether Hendon was running a business or was acting as a good Samaritan.
Authorities said that a suspect tried to enter the courthouse on April 6 with a firearm and a child in handcuffs, claiming he was a resource officer working as part of a Scared Straight program.
The man had a security badge, but the word “security” was covered with a band, Holland said.
“We have a juvenile diversion program but we don’t have a Scared Straight program,” he added.
Authorities said Hendon is not a certified peace officer in Ohio, but he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Akron police determined that Hendon allegedly had tried to get into the courthouse and jail four times while dressed in tactical police gear and with handcuffed children.
People are required to pass through metal detectors when entering both the courthouse and jail.
Each time, the suspect left with the children after being denied access, Holland said.
Asked why authorities didn’t question Hendon at the time of the incidents, Holland responded only that Hendon left the area. The children were of elementary or middle school age.
A mother had called Leggett elementary school in Akron to authorize Hendon to pick up a student, Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson said. Hendon showed up, but so did the mother and the student left with the woman, he said.
He added that the district is investigating and trying to find out exactly what happened.
The district planned to send an alert to parents reminding them of the policy that students cannot leave with anyone unless they are authorized by the parents.
Deputies and Akron police executed a search warrant Monday at Hendon’s Akron residence and seized a handgun, a simulated firearm, handcuffs, law enforcement equipment, a tactical vest and items labeled with police insignias.
He was arraigned Tuesday morning in Akron Municipal Court. County prosecutors will review the case prior to presenting it to the county grand jury.
Trying to mentor kids?
At least one city official questioned the severity of the initial charges against Hendon.
Akron City Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples said Hendon wanted to be a police officer and started a Scared Straight program to help mentor youth. She said the parents of the children involved had asked him for help.
Hendon had reached out to the councilwoman asking if the city could help him with the program.
“I told him he needed to put together a presentation about what he’s doing with the kids and present it to council and introduce himself,” Mosley-Samples said.
She also said she warned him to be careful about what he was doing because of his interest in becoming an officer.
“I’m just concerned about his mental state because he wants to do something good,” Mosley-Samples said. “We can’t pay our young black men to be police officers, and he wants to be one. I’m hoping that when he comes out on the other end of it, it doesn’t break his spirit.”
Hendon attended the Kent State University Police Academy at the school’s Trumbull campus from Sept. 26 to Jan. 4 last year. Kent State declined to comment further, other than to say it’s a seven-month program and he didn’t graduate.
He also participated between 2008 and 2011 in the Akron Police Explorers program, Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said. Many Explorers participants, who range in age from 13 to 21, hope to one day become police officers.
The group meets monthly and learns about K-9 training and other aspects of policing. Explorers have no policing power — they don’t make arrests or carry a weapon, Edwards said. But they may help out with traffic control during special events.
Hendon had created an online GoFundMe.com account to raise money for the family of Daniel Turner, the security guard who was killed last month at the Game 7 Bar and Grille on South Arlington Street in Akron. The account had raised $440 toward the $3,500 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities are asking that anyone who participated in his Scared Straight program or knows the children to contact the Summit County Sheriff’s Detective Bureau at 330-643-2131.