Documents reveal details of Clarion County manhunt

From staff reports

A 29-year-old Reynoldsburg, Ohio, man has been charged in an incident along River Hill that led to school closings and a manhunt that began Tuesday evening and ended peacefully Wednesday morning.

James Ledos Cunningham has been charged with receiving stolen property, flight to avoid apprehension and carrying a firearm without a license, all third-degree felonies, and an unclassified charge of illegal possession of a firearm.

According to court documents, Clarion state police received a telephone call at an unspecified time from a woman who said her sister (referred to as VE) was texting her.

VE, the documents said, told her sister that she was with her boyfriend, identified as Cunningham, and he was threatening to kill himself.

According to the documents, VE and Cunningham were in a white Subaru Legacy on Old U.S. Route 322 along the Clarion River in Clarion Township.

The documents said VE’s sister told police that Cunningham was refusing to admit himself to the Clarion Psychiatric Center.

According to the documents, Clarion state police then received a call from Franklin state police, who reported Cunningham’s mother had just reported Cunningham had stolen her revolver – a silver and pink, snub-nose .38-caliber handgun.

Police, the documents said, also determined Cunningham was wanted in Venango County for failure to appear on misdemeanor charges. It is not clear what those charges are, as the only online court listing for Cunningham in Venango County is a settled traffic ticket from 2014.

VE’s sister confirmed to police that Cunningham was in possession of the handgun per VE’s messages, according to the documents.

State police set up at the entrance of Old U.S. Route 322, near the boat launch area, the documents said.

According to the documents, police contacted VE and advised her to flee from Cunningham, if she could safely do so, or to have Cunningham contact police.

VE reported to police she believed Cunningham would kill himself if she were to leave him, the documents said.

Cunningham, according to the documents, became agitated and walked away from the car, and VE reported Cunningham had walked to the river and had the gun out.

According to the documents, police advised VE to walk away.

VE, the documents said, reported she started to walk away but Cunningham was following her with the gun.

VE went to police and told them that Cunningham had been expected to arrive at the Clarion Psychiatric Center earlier that day, according to the documents.

Cunningham, the documents said, did not follow VE to police and his whereabouts were unknown.

The state police Special Emergency Response Team and aviation unit were contacted around 9:50 p.m. Tuesday to help find Cunningham, the documents said.

On Wednesday morning, the documents said, police secured the Subaru, in which they found a black 9-mm handgun.

Around mid-morning, Cunningham was taken into custody without further incident, the documents said.

At the time of his apprehension, the documents said, Cunningham was in possession of a snub-nose .38-caliber revolver.

There were no reported injuries during the incident.

Cunningham is being held at the Clarion County Jail in lieu of $150,000 cash bail. He is also under an involuntary “302” mental health warrant.

The approximately 12-hours long incident led to the closing of a portion of U.S. Route 322 and school closings in the Clarion Area School District, Clarion County Career Center, Immaculate Conception School and Clarion Area and Clarion-Limestone Head Start.