NEWCOMERSTOWN —Police Chief Gary Holland acknowledged Thursday that no officer responded to a citizen's report of a possible gunshot at 3:55 a.m. Monday, when it is believed a 19-year-old New Philadelphia man was shot to death.
He said the lack of action is a problem.
"You get a call, respond," Holland said. "I can't candy-coat it any other way. They should have had an officer there. That's the procedure. That's the policy. That's standard practice. It didn't happen."
He declined to answer a question about whether anyone was disciplined for the lapse.
Tuscarawas County Coroner Dr. Jeff Cameron stated in his initial report that Luke W. Cabbage was pronounced dead at 7:26 a.m. Monday. Police responded to the scene of the death at 7:24 a.m., after having been alerted by a resident of the 500 block of Tuscarawas Avenue, where the body was found in a front lawn.
The time interval between the presumed time of the shooting and law enforcement's arrival on the scene bothered Christopher Baker, who placed the first call.
"At 3:55 a.m., I called Newcomerstown Police Department directly," he wrote in an email to The Times-Reporter. "I told dispatch that it could have possibly been a firework but it sounded like a gun. I waited until 5:15 a.m., but did not see an officer respond to my call.
"I will agree that it is possible the officer passed down Tuscarawas Avenue while I went to the restroom. I feel if that was true, then it was a quick pass.
"I am not out to bash the police force," Baker wrote. "I have a lot of respect for our boys in blue. The fact is a young man died, and if there was a possibility he could have been saved, then it should have been looked into."
Three suspects in the murder have confessed to involvement in Cabbage's death, according to Newcomerstown police. All three are from Jefferson County.
They are Kyle Boyd, 22, of Mingo Junction; Jordan Robinson, 20, of Bloomingdale; and Arnoldo Moreno Orduno, 19, of Dillonvale. Each is charged with aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery and two counts of conspiracy.
Chief Holland outlined Cabbage's final activities in a phone interview on Thursday.
The New Philadelphia man attended a party at 503 Tuscarawas Ave. at 11 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
The property had previously been brought to the attention of police because of complaints about a high-traffic volume, Holland said. Police had begun to gather intelligence about the white house before Monday's murder.
The people in the house at 503 Tuscarawas said Cabbage left at 3 a.m. or 3:30 a.m. to go visit others he described as friends, Holland said.
By 7:24 a.m., he was dead.