A Port Allegany couple accused of hiding on a roof during a standoff with police were arraigned on related charges Monday.
On Thursday evening, police negotiated for over three hours with Ryan P. Johnston, 27, and Christina M. Lynn-Hamilton, 28, both of 35 Park Drive, Port Allegany, trying to get the pair off the steep rooftop safely.
During the harrowing exchange, police watched the pair nearly fall off multiple times and take suspected methamphetamine twice.
Johnston and Hamilton were arraigned Monday before District Judge Dominic Cercone, each on charges of flight to avoid apprehension and hindering apprehension, third-degree felonies; two counts of recklessly endangering another person, second-degree misdemeanors; and one count of disorderly conduct, a third-degree misdemeanor.
According to the criminal complaint, at 5 p.m. Thursday, Smethport Borough Police called Bradford City Police telling them to look for a rental car with Tennessee license plates near the intersection of South Avenue and Pike Street. Smethport police believed the car was being used by Johnston and Hamilton, who both had active arrest warrants out of McKean County.
Additionally, Smethport police said Johnston had an active arrest warrant from New York state for absconding from probation — a sentence he was serving for allegations of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance.
Bradford police located the car parked in front of 217 South Ave. The residence was the home of Kyle and Chanelle Keller, and police said three or four children also lived there.
Police learned that Hamilton and Johnston were hiding in the attic and that Hamilton armed herself with a knife, according to court records. They had the Kellers take their children and leave temporarily. Several officers remained on the perimeter of the house while Assistant Police Chief Michael Ward went to the police station to prepare a search warrant.
At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, officers on the perimeter reported to the McKean County 911 Center that Johnston and Hamilton had crawled out a window to the steep slate roof of the three-story house, trying to find an escape route, according to court records.
From the roof, they allegedly flipped off officers and were screaming profanities and insults, refusing to comply. The pair said they wanted “freedom” and would “ride or die together” rather than turn themselves in, court records stated.
Officers from Bradford Township, Foster Township, Smethport and Lewis Run-based state police were brought in to assist.
“This roof that they were on was extremely high and they were almost falling on several occasions as they moved around on the roof,” the complaint stated. “There was no way to access this easy.”
Police shut down South Avenue and adjacent roads for safety reasons — reasons that included the possibility that the pair would jump toward the road.
“I had determined we were going to wait them out as there was no safe way to physically extract them from the roof,” Ward explained in the criminal complaint. “I felt this presented a life or death danger to the officers and (Johnston and Hamilton), especially if there was a struggle.”
At one point, officers could hear Hamilton and Johnston planning to jump to the roof of the next house over to try to escape, so some officers were moved to that roof to deter the plan, according to court records.
Also during negotiations, officers watched Johnston and Hamilton pull out a bag of suspected meth and “snort lines on the roof top,” the complaint stated. “They were almost celebrating up there and hooting and hollering after doing the meth.” Johnston became ill, and police worried that he was overdosing; however, he came around after he vomited.
The pair started telling police they were facing five years of prison time due to the warrants and said they were not going to prison. They began to threaten suicide by jumping from the roof if police tried to get them off the roof.
Someone from Johnston’s childhood stepped in to help with negotiations.
“Negotiations to surrender were not going well” until a city fireman who knew Johnston when they were children — Mike Maze — asked to speak to Johnston, the complaint stated. Maze started talking to Johnston, who “immediately responded in a positive manner.”
After they talked for a bit, Johnston and Hamilton started to indicate they were going to surrender, and they moved toward a rear window.
“This was all extremely dangerous and they nearly fell multiple times,” the complaint stated, noting the fall would have been about 50 feet and there were several items on which they could have been impaled.
Before going into the window, they stopped to do more lines of meth. They got quiet, and officers asked what was going on. Hamilton shouted many times to hold on, saying “it’s going to be a minute before we see each other again.”
At 10:09 p.m. Monday, they crawled in the window and were safely taken into custody by several officers who were waiting in the attic.
Police seized several items including “an abundance of drug paraphernalia, including multiple bongs, pipes, baggies, grinder and cleaning devices,” the complaint stated. In addition to the new charges in McKean County, fugitive from justice charges were filed against Johnston related to the New York state warrant, according to the criminal complaint.
Online court records also indicate a bench warrant for Johnston was filed in Potter County on Aug. 7 — the same date he was scheduled to appear for a criminal conference there on another pending drug delivery case.
Bail against both was set for $100,000 for the new charges, and they are incarcerated in McKean County Jail. They are scheduled to appear in Central Court on Aug. 29.