CHESTER - Less than a block away from an elementary school and the police department, three armed men broke into a downtown Chester apartment Monday night and robbed its occupant, Chester police said.
Police Chief Ken Thorn described the incident as a home invasion, something "definitely out of the norm" for this community.
A Chester resident, described as a Hispanic male, was injured but refused treatment after three armed, masked men entered his second-floor apartment at 598 Carolina Ave. and apparently hit him with a baseball bat, Thorn said.
HOME INVASION — The rear of 598 Carolina Ave., where Chester police believe three armed, masked men entered Monday night and robbed a second-floor apartment tenant. -- Stephen Huba
Thorn would not release the victim's name pending positive identification.
The suspects, also described as Hispanic men, were carrying two handguns and a baseball bat, Thorn said. They incapacitated the victim and took cash and other items from the residence, located above Alcatraz Body Modification, a tattoo parlor, he said.
The suspects fled the area in a vehicle, possibly a 2000, or later, red Honda Civic, Thorn said.
"We have some good leads that we're following up on," Thorn said. "I'm still confident there'll be some activity on this."
The police department got the call around 9:30 p.m. Monday, but responding officers had to overcome some communication difficulties, Thorn said.
The 911 call, apparently made from a cell phone, initially went to Columbiana County, which then transferred it to the West Virginia State Police.
The call came in as a robbery on 598 Carol Street, but there is no such street in Chester, Thorn said. Officers then began checking all 598 addresses, he said.
Because the victim speaks Spanish, officers also required a translator to assist with the investigation, Thorn said.
Thorn said the victim suffered injuries to the head and upper body but refused transport to the hospital. His two roommates were not home at the time of the incident.
"We approached the rear of the building and found the victim standing there with his two friends out in the driveway," Thorn said.
City Councilman Brian Handley, in whose ward the building is located, said the incident is an unfortunate sign of the times.
"Stuff like that doesn't happen around here," he said. "It's another sign that times are changing, I guess, and not for the better. It's disheartening."
Fred Ludovici, owner of the property, said the Hispanic tenant has been living there about five months without incident.
"He's getting ready to leave in a month," he said.
The building is within a block of Allison Elementary School and the Chester Police Department.
(Huba can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)