CLAY TOWNSHIP — Gallia-Meigs Task Force agents, along with deputies with the Gallia Sheriff’s Office, served a search warrant at a residence on Cooper Road where they were allegedly fired upon when attempting to enter the residence early Monday morning.
According to a statement released by Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin, deputies, along with task force agents, executed the search warrant on Jan. 2 at approximately 12:45 a.m. at 672 Cooper Road near Gallipolis in northern Clay Township. According to Champlin, as law enforcement approached the front door of the residence, officers knocked and announced they were there to serve a search warrant. While attempting to breach the door, two shots were allegedly fired from inside the residence and exited near the door where officers were attempting to gain entry. Moments later, a male allegedly pushed a window open and tossed a firearm which landed in the vicinity of other officers at the rear of the residence. Officers were able to make entry into the residence and detained Joseph M. Ellis, 35, and Amber N. Stewart, 32. Gallia County Children’s Services were contacted due to Stewart’s 5-year-old son being home at the time of the incident.
Once the scene was secured, law enforcement searched the residence and property. Task force agents seized several items including a .22 caliber pistol, over 17 grams of heroin, marijuana and pills along with sets of digital scales. Agents also say they seized over $4,500 in cash money.
After conferring with Gallia Prosecuting Attorney Jason Holdren, who was also on scene, agents arrested Ellis and charged him with felonious assault, a first-degree felony, due to a reported attack on an officer with a peace officer specification, trafficking in heroin, a first-degree felony in the vicinity of a juvenile and possession of heroin with a gun specification as a felony of the second-degree. Ellis was also charged with child endangerment, a misdemeanor of the first-degree and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. Ellis was then incarcerated in the Gallia County Jail. Stewart is charged with trafficking in heroin, a felony of the first-degree in the vicinity of a juvenile, possession of heroin a second-degree felony with a gun specification and child endangerment, a misdemeanor of the first-degree. She was also then incarcerated in the Gallia County Jail.
During court proceedings Tuesday afternoon, both Ellis and Stewart pleaded not guilty to alleged crimes. Ellis is being held on a bond of $500,000 with a 10 percent surety. Stewart is being held on a $250,000 with a 10 percent surety.
During the proceeding, Ellis said he did not feel officers had a warrant when they appeared at the residence on Cooper Road. He felt they had the wrong address and that law enforcement could not see inside the residence because they could not enter, so therefore they did not see any actions inside the structure. Ellis said law enforcement had not tested his grip for residue as evidence of gunfire and felt that the mentioned weapon discovery outside the structure was “put on him.” Ellis said he asked to see the warrant paperwork and it was not displayed to him as of the time of the incident and the subsequent arrest.
The Major Crimes Task Force of Gallia-Meigs is a state task force under the jurisdiction the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the task force was formed in September 2013. The task force is formed by the Gallia and Meigs County Sheriff’s Offices, Gallipolis and Middleport Police Departments and the Gallia and Meigs County Prosecutor Offices.
According to Champlin, the search warrant was secured after a “lengthy narcotics investigation.”
(Editor’s Note:Dean Wright contributed to this report.)