'I'm sitting here at gunpoint for no reason'

What happened during warrant raid in Norwalk? Deputies and residents have differing stories
Cary Ashby
Mar 30, 2014

Benedict Avenue resident John Collins freely admits his "past is a little dark."

The former heroin addict also said authorities know him "on a need-to-know basis," but for the last four to five years he's led a law-abiding life. Collins showed the Reflector a cell phone app declaring he's been sober for seven months and 15 days as of Sunday.

"I've been doing good with my sobriety," he said.

Huron County sheriff's deputies went to Collins' apartment at 114 1/2 Benedict Ave. reportedly to use a drug-related search warrant Tuesday.

However, the 26-year-old Collins said deputies had no reason to break down his door and handcuff him.

"You can ask anybody -- for the last five years, I've fallen off the map," said Collins, who refers to himself as a self-imposed hermit.

"I don't mess with nobody," added Collins, who only leaves his apartment to go to the store or stay at his mother's residence.

 

The raid

Collins was watching television on his couch just after 7 p.m. Tuesday before deputies entered his apartment. He said he faintly heard someone yell "sheriff!" and by the time he took two steps from his couch to see what was happening, four deputies entered his residence from opposite directions.

"Boom -- they came from that door," he said, indicating his front door, "and boom -- they came from that (back) door."

Collins said deputies told him to get on his stomach and spread his arms. After he complied, he was handcuffed. Later, deputies had him sit back on his couch.

"They left me lying for five to 10 minutes on my belly," Collins recalled, saying deputies searched his residence -- upstairs and downstairs -- during that time frame. "They counted all my pills."

During the search, deputies stepped on a $300 tablet and shattered the screen, Collins said.

"It still works, but I can't let my kid play with it," he said.

Also, when deputies opened the door, a moon decor with a star on top reportedly fell and broke. The decor is a memento of his son, who died still-born when his then-girlfriend was five months pregnant.

"You couldn't give me a million dollars for it. ... That is all I have left that reminds me of my kid," Collins said.

At some point, Detective Sgt. Josh Querin talked with Detective Kayla Zander outside. Collins said he demanded to know why they were there, but he was told to "shut up" and deputies referred to his apartment as a "drug house."

Collins said deputies told him: "You're under arrest for being in a drug house."

Zander later re-entered the apartment. Collins said she read him his rights and then uncuffed his hands, which had been behind his back while he was on the couch. Zander and other deputies went next door, where they arrested two residents -- a man and his mother.

While Collins said he waited inside his apartment with two deputies nearby with their guns reportedly drawn, he remembers "freaking out" and having a panic attack. He has taken anti-anxiety medication since he was a child. Collins said deputies refused to let him take any of that medicine while they waited.

"I'm sitting here at gunpoint for no reason," he remembered thinking. "All of my court fees have been paid up. I've been a law-abiding citizen for the last four years."

Collins' last trip to jail occurred in the fall, when he served a 10-day sentence for failing to undergo anger management counseling.

"The original charge was three years ago," he said.

Detectives reportedly determined Collins wasn't the male suspect they were seeking originally.

Querin reportedly apologized for what happened.

"'I'm sorry for scaring the (expletive) out of you.' That was his exact words," Collins said. "I told him, 'You didn't scare the (expletive) out of me; you scared the living piss out of me.'"

As a result of the incident, Collins no longer keeps his front shades drawn as he used to do and now sleeps at his mother's home. He is picked up by his mother every night about 8 p.m.

"Since that incident happened, I want to be able to see what happens," said Collins, who jumps at the sound of a siren now.

Collins has left messages for 10 attorneys, talked to three or four of them and has an appointment to meet with another. He also has alerted two news agencies and the ACLU.

Collins said, however, that he does not plan to file a lawsuit.

 

Neighbors nabbed

Two of Collins' next-door neighbors, Thomas M. Papp, 34, and his mother, Patricia Papp, 58, both of 114 Benedict Ave., were arrested on secret indictments that same night. Thomas Papp is charged with trafficking in oxycodone in connection with a Sept. 9, 2012 incident. His mother faces a similar felony stemming from a July 8, 2012 offense.

On Sunday, Patricia Papp and another one of her sons, Timothy, said deputies didn't have a warrant when they made the arrests.

"They didn't have the secret indictments on them. ... They're supposed to have the warrants on them," Patricia Papp said.

"Because they messed up, they had to make an arrest," her son added.

Collins, in a separate interview Sunday, said he believes deputies arrested Thomas Papp and his mother "for the purpose of being there."

Chief Deputy Ted Patrick earlier told the Reflector that while deputies were at the triplex, they received a tip that a male suspect who lives nearby -- Thomas Papp -- was wanted on a felony warrant.

Patrick could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Collins questions the logic of the sheriff's spokesman.

"How can you get a tip on a secret indictment if it's a secret indictment?," said Collins, who was unaware the Papps were wanted on warrants.

Patrick also said deputies were looking for another male suspect and while they didn't find him, they used the warrant and seized evidence that will be tested by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Patricia Papp said she didn't give deputies permission to search her home and they did so after she was arrested and out of the residence.

"They did an illegal search of my house," said Papp, who says deputies seized all of her medication.

The sheriff's office had a different explanation. Patrick said while officers didn't arrest the suspect they were seeking, they used the warrant to seize the evidence.

 

Was NPD there, too?

Norwalk Police Chief Dave Light had been notified beforehand that deputies would be using the warrant. He has said none of his officers were involved -- something he reaffirmed Sunday.

The Papps said they saw two Norwalk officers in blue uniforms in or near their residence Tuesday. Papp and her son said one officer was in the front lawn and in the Simply U Tanning parking lot next door and at one point, two officers were in their "living room right there by the door." They added they could tell the difference between the deputies' outfits and the Norwalk officers'.

"I just talked to (Detective Sgt.) Jim Fulton. They were doing another investigation," said Light, who called Fulton to make sure there wasn't a misunderstanding.

 

Suspect being sought

As for the man authorities were seeking Tuesday during the raid, "he comes and visits a couple times a months, but I didn't know he was wanted for anything," Patricia Papp said.

The Reflector isn't naming that suspect because the sheriff's office hasn't released his name.

The mother contests deputies' allegation they have a video recording or photograph of the male suspect leaving the front of her residence.

"As far as I know, he (always) came through the back door," Papp said.

Collins said he doesn't know the 41-year-old man personally.

"I know of him," said Collins, who last talked with the suspect in January. "He doesn't even live here in Norwalk."

Collins, quoting Detective Zander, said authorities thought he and the suspect "look alike from a distance."

Collins, who is about 5-foot-9 and weighs roughly 165 pounds, refuted Zander's claim, saying the other man is 5 feet 4 or 5 inches tall and weighs nearly 130 pounds.

"He's real small; he's a petite dude. (He's) clean shaven," added Collins, who has brown hair and a beard.

Comments

WATCHED_1s

Look closely at the picture of the ipad. This guy has a "coke nail." His pinky fingernail is extremely long. And if you look this up, it is used as a little spoon to scoop drugs up and snort them. Drugs like cocaine or powder heroin maybe.

rbenn

good catch on the photo. since he doesn't work where did he get all the money for those tats? But that doesn't excuse what happened here.

WATCHED_1s

And I like how his pointer finger is stained with heroin tar. Look at the brown staining on his finger. Not a smokers stain. Those would be on his pointer and middle if that was the excuse

AnAmerican

A big settlement the county taxpayer will shell out when this is all said and done.

btw, does anyone know how much the county (taxpayers) paid or will have to pay on the death and O.D. of the other three female inmates?

howcanthisbe

Watched 1 , rbenn, and Rick Ross. How many drugs do you all do each day that you know and can pick out all of these "drug using" attributes to his pictures? Coming from someone who has never done a drug in my life I didn't know anything about these things you all have pointed out!?!? Beings you all are well versed in drug habits and have nothing better to do on a Monday I wonder do you all have jobs? If so are you using company computers to read and comment on these stories? Or are you using your phones while on the clock? No I am not defending this man I am just saying that based on your lovely judgements you think that even if he has a past but is clean he deserves to not have rights, even if he isn't clean he still has rights. Perhaps the hcso should come to your houses next out of pure accident or speculation? And as for tattoos obviously any idiot knows that most people know someone who does tattoos has a tattoo shop etc, people with low paying jobs seem to find ample $ for tattoos so this guy can't? However I would say he has now told his story to everyone so I would just leave it at that. As usual these comments have become about this man instead of the situation at hand which is an improper search of someone's home by law enforcement trying to cover their own butts now. Stay focused folks!

WATCHED_1s

Do you ever watch t.v.? There was just a drug show on about the heroin epidemic. They show all of that on there. And I have never done heroin, I just have knowledge of this stuff. Try educating yourself about the $hit going on around here. You will then know who to stay away from. And I do have a good paying full time job. Obviously you are doing the same thing you are accusing others of. So go stand in the corner.

rickross2

Because every person has to work 1st shift? Everyone with a job works 8-5 or what? By the way, I've got at least $1000 wrapped up in tattoos, they mean nothing negative to me.

WATCHED_1s

Agree. I have over 1000 wrapped in tattoos as well. I can afford them though. Through working and being in the military.

rickross2

I wasn't in the military but I definitely work for my ink. Thank you for your service.

rickross2

I got a appointment on the 12th for some more......effing stoked!

WATCHED_1s

Hell yeah. I need more for sure.

starryeyes83

I'm not a doper, but have seen people in real life, many years ago, use their long pinky nails as a "coke spoon". At a wedding reception ,no less. That person just happened to be a woman with very long nails with a dark nail polish on them. She also happened to be mid management at a local company, at the time.

ladydye_5

I agree...I have never touched drugs, and know what a "coke nail" is.

rickross2

I disagree. I've done a butt ton of blow in my younger years. I never saw one person use a fingernail! Ever! Also, a lot of people who do cocaine are successful people. They have to be to afford it. Broke junkies do heroin, business men do blow.

starryeyes83

You may disagree all you want... just because , you've personally never seen it, doesn't mean they don't do it. I know what I saw and I will say that person used to be a relative and her pinky nail was at least an inch long.

Hell, if someone is desperate enough they can still snort the heroin.

howcanthisbe

And one last thing then I am done... No genius commenters of the norwalk reflector an app doesn't prove he is clean, if you don't know that perhaps you should have your iq checked. However addicts whom have become sober are encouraged to keep track or add apps to remind them and inspire them to stay clean. I am sure that was the point of mentioning his "app"

itsnotme

Perhaps before calling for an IQ test on others, one should check their post for punctuation and grammatical errors.

hambone

If you think "they" need IQ checked, why are you debating them?

NWalk99

This is yet another example of police brutality - bully edition.
Handcuff the guy first and ask questions later.....completely the opposite of innocent until proven guilty. When the guy asks the police why they where searching his place - they tell him to "shut up." The arrogance of the uniform is out of control and agree with everyone's comments - that have made reference to a Police State.

unknownmess-anger

ok first off, who does this guy think hes fooling...not me...secondly you have to distance yourself from drug houses and drug dealers especially if you are getting sober...im pretty sure this was all one house...even if you have your own # on your door, this was a drug house...7 months of sobriety does not make you clean...it puts you in recovery which is the first step...i hope this guy is in recovery, for his sake...if hes genuinely sober and clean the first thing he should have done was move...i dont believe that he had no clue what was going on...move in with mom...get away from the scene...im gonna give props to hcso...im glad to see them taking a stand against these losers that are bringing our community down and dragging all of us into this downward spiral with them...i do not feel sorry for this guy at all...i feel sorry for my children who ive chosen to raise in this town who will be confronted with this garbage at some point in their lives, i say take them all out now...we all make our beds, its our choice to either get back in it or burn it...the only innocent victims in all of this are our children...they still have a chance...if we dont come together as a community and support our law enforcement we have no one to blame for this epidemic but ourselves...sober or not...finally id like to say this...doctors are glorified drug dealers, just because you arent using needles and straws anymore does not make you sober...there are millions of addicted users in this country using prescription drugs as directed...they are still opiates, narcotics, and benzos...highly addictive drugs...so dont be fooled by a prescription pad...now watch cuz this will be funny...you will be able to point out every junkie on this blog by all the hate responses i will get on this comment...if you have kids you care about, family that matters or if your a recovering drug addict you have no choice but to agree with me...this has nothing to do with breaking your rights as a citizen...it has to do with getting these drugs and losers off of our streets and away from our kids...drugs will always be here...but lets be for real for a second...when i was growing up in this town all of this heroin and pill use just wasnt as much as an epidemic as it is now...we can change that back, but we all have to work together...the drugs and people are not the problem...the problem is people like me who care and "we the people" have given up hope and refuse to be active...we want the police to do it all and when they try to do something half the town sticks up for the people who are in the wrong worried about what the police may have done wrong...quit whining people and be active...lets unite as a community and take back our town...it has been done before, it is possible, but it cant be done from our living rooms

rickross2

You'd better wipe after a fart that long.

Richard Cranium

Here is an easy one...They have to leave a copy of the search warrant at the home in which they entered. They don't have to leave the search warrant affidavit, but they have to leave the search warrant. So take a look at the one they left at the residence. It should spell out what address they were supposed to search and what they were searching for.

AnAmerican

Good point, but this was not a typographical error or a simple mistake. They were warned by local officials that the man they were after had been gone from that residence for two years. They chose to ignore the warning. Instead of waiting and verifying the info they made the CHOICE to go ahead and disregard the warning.

Wildbunch3

I also question how he's been a law abiding citizen for 4/5 years but only clean from heroin 7 months. Either way if the HCSO had the wrong apt/person then they need to admit it, apologize and move on.

earlduck

unknownmess if you had anything to say it was lost in that long post that nobody wants to read

unknownmess-anger

do have anything to say? you dont do crap but follow me around and bash everything i post...your obviously one of those loser junkies im talking about earl

rickross2

*you're

unknownmess-anger

if the only thing you have to offer is grammar errors on a blog site your an idiot...its a blog for Christ sake not an essay...although i have to give it up to some of you hillbillies...you know how to spell

rickross2

*you're....again. I have to give it up to you. Even when someone calls out YOUR mistake, YOU'RE ballsy enough to post it again! You are is you're. I had no idea this blog was for Christ's sake...I thought it was just for our enjoyment. Who knew? <---Sarcasm

unknownmess-anger

you can always tell who you make mad because they never have anything to say...i havent seen you ridicule anyone else's posts...know why...because i said something that mad you mad and your to ignorant to counter it with an intelligent thought, so the only thing you can do is point out misspellings or missing apostrophes and periods....you my friend are stupid...YOUR an idiot

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