July 28, 2014

Elyria
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Deputies subdue man after Camden Twp. fire, standoff

Lorain County Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Ashdown, who was negotiating with Edwin Cornwell Jr., heads toward him after another deputy shot him from behind with a Taser. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Lorain County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Ashdown, who was negotiating with Edwin Cornwell Jr., heads toward him after another deputy shot him from behind with a Taser. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

CAMDEN TWP. — Lorain County sheriff’s deputies subdued a 21-year-old man with a history of mental illness with a Taser on Thursday as an outbuilding at his grandparents’ Gifford Road home burned nearby.

The man, identified by deputies as Edwin Cornwell Jr., has not been charged in connection with the incident. He was being treated at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland for what Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Drozdowski described as a self-inflicted knife wound to the neck.

Camden Township firefighters were sent to 15304 Gifford Road on Thursday shortly after noon. When they arrived, they “heard popping noises and they thought they were being shot at,” Drozdowski said.

Drozdowski said deputies suspect the gunshots heard by firefighters may have been exploding ammunition. He said the family has used the structure for reloading ammunition.

There also were reports that the man later identified as Cornwell ran from the burning outbuilding into the house.

Smoke from the blaze, which burned unchecked while firefighters waited for the situation with Cornwell to resolve, could be seen as far away as Carlisle Township.

While walking toward deputies, Cornwell holds a large knife as he yells for them to shoot him. The burning outbuilding brought deputies to the scene at 15304 Gifford Road in Camden Township

While walking toward deputies, Cornwell holds a large knife as he yells for them to shoot him. The burning outbuilding brought deputies to the scene at 15304 Gifford Road in Camden Township

Deputies were called to the scene at 12:36 p.m. because of safety concerns and set up a perimeter. They were unsuccessful in their attempts to reach Cornwell by phone. Drozdowski said there was concern that Cornwell’s grandparents, Jim and Carolyn Bryans, might have been inside their house, although it was later determined Cornwell was alone.

Drozdowski said Sgt. Daniel Ashdown then used a loudspeaker to speak to Cornwell in an effort to convince him to come outside. The shirtless Cornwell did come outside briefly before going back inside.

When Cornwell came out a second time, he was armed with a large knife, which Ashdown tried to talk him into putting down.

During the conversation, Drozdowski said Cornwell repeatedly urged deputies to shoot him.

As Ashdown was talking with Cornwell, Deputy Mike Folley approached Cornwell from behind and hit him with a Taser as he was down on one knee while the knife blade appeared to be pointed into the dirt.

Cornwell dropped to the ground. Deputies rushed in to subdue and handcuff him.

Drozdowski said the situation could have ended far worse, given the circumstances.

“The guys did a good job,” he said. “These types of situations could go bad very quickly.”

Deputies still are investigating, but they suspect the fire that reduced the outbuilding to rubble was deliberately set by Cornwell, who Drozdowski said has a history of depression and recently was hospitalized for mental illness.

He said the incident may have been the result of Cornwell’s unsuccessful job hunt earlier in the day.

Family members declined to comment after firefighters extinguished the blaze, but family friend Ruth Groot said she’s known the family for years and said they were good people.

“It’s one of these tragic things that happen,” she said.

Drozdowski said while Cornwell is receiving treatment for his injuries and mental health issues, deputies will review the evidence and decide whether to charge him.

A MetroHealth spokesman said Thursday that Cornwell’s condition was undetermined. Drozdowski said his understanding is the neck wound is superficial.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

Photo gallery from standoff

  • Frank Siegfried

    Great job guys!! Nobody hurt, nobody dead. Situation resolved safely.!

  • Sis Delish

    Photo Journalism at its best…

  • Amy Johnson

    Wow! Great patience and understanding on the part of law enforcement. This kid would have been dead six ways to Sunday in many other places. Nice job keeping everyone involved safe. And fantastic photo journalism by Bruce Bishop.

  • jz

    Realize that any day, any place, anytime, police officers can end up in a situation like this on their shift. Unpredictable things happen ie someone else arrives on scene who has a beef with cops or anything like that and it all changes in an instant. They know that and citizens should never forget and give thanks.

  • Jeff

    Funny as hell…Looks like something out of the matrix. Nice work !!!

    • bdid.d

      Wish they included audio!

  • Melissa Merrill Snyder

    Thank you LCSO for handling this situation so well. And, thank you God for keeping our officers safe.

  • bdid.d

    This would make a bad@$$ flip book!

  • HankKwah

    Question to anyone that can answer this: If Cornwell is “a 21-year-old man with a history of mental illness”, is he free to live on his own? Does he take medication? Is he responsible for taking it? Is this how he gets when he’s off it? The point I’m getting at, as everyone else has put it, this could’ve turned out MUCH worse than it did. And if he’s got medication he’s supposed to take, is there anyone that is looking after him? What about all the other people that are afflicted as he is? It seems that these folks with a history of mental illness are making headlines much more often these days, and only when they go off their meds. I would hate to see one go on a rampage and kill innocent folks because he wasn’t in the mood to take a few pills one day.

  • todd

    Great job guys. True pros. God bless sheriff’s office

  • todd

    Bruce Bishop…best photo-journalist around. Always catches good shots