Two more arrested in slaying of Cleveland police officer, informant, sources say
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Police arrested two more people in connection with the slaying of Cleveland police Det. James Skernivitz and a police informant, according to four police sources.
The sources said officers arrested the duo late Sunday. One is a juvenile and one is an adult, the sources said. Formal charges have not been filed in the case.
Three others — two juveniles and one adult — were arrested Friday. All three are being held on unrelated warrants. No charges have been filed against them either in connection with the shooting.
Cleveland police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia did not respond to a message seeking comment. She later sent an email that said no new information on the investigation would be released and asked for the public’s help in providing information on the shooting. She also noted the FBI is offering a $35,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
The shooting happened about 10 p.m. Thursday behind a mostly abandoned strip mall on West 67th Place near West 65th Street and Storer Avenue.
Skernivitz was conducting an investigation into drug dealing in the area at the time of the shooting.
The 22-year police veteran and member of the department’s gang investigation unit sat in his unmarked car with police informant Scott Dingess, 50, of Cleveland, according to police. Officers in the gang unit wear plain clothes, drive unmarked cars, and do not wear body cameras.
Several people walked up to the car and opened fire, according to police. A bullet hit Skernivitz in the chest and several bullets hit Dingess, killing both, according to the sources. Skernivitz drove forward and crashed into a fence outside a school.
Skernivitz was sworn in the day before the shooting to work with federal agents in the Northern Ohio Violent Crimes Task Force, according to FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson. That unit works with federal agents sent to Cleveland as part of Operation Legend, a federal initiative to combat crime in several cities experiencing an uptick in violence.
Skernivitz is the first on-duty Cleveland police officer to die since Vu Nguyen died July 7, 2017, after he collapsed of heatstroke during a training exercise and the first to be fatally shot on duty since Derek Owens on Feb. 29, 2008.
Lamidi Kafaru fatally shot Owens as Owens chased after him after breaking up a party and witnessing a drug deal. Kafaru is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole eligibility.
The last Cleveland officer working in the field to die was officer David Fahey. A man high on cocaine hit Fahey with his car on Jan. 24, 2017, while Fahey set road flares to divert traffic from a previous crash. The driver, Israel Alvarez, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Skernivitz’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. Friday at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland. Visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at A. Ripepi & Sons Funeral Home on Bagley Road in Middleburg Heights.
Skernivitz is survived by a wife and three children.
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