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Cops called to false gun threat Tuesday

BRIDGEPORT — Police responded to a confusing and potentially hazardous situation Tuesday evening at the Pizza Hut in Bridgeport during what the investigating officer termed a “bad drug deal.”

Initial reports of a woman being held at gunpoint proved to be a bluff, but officers were on high alert when they arrived.

Three people were arrested: Veronica Blondena Twardoski, 34, of Urichsville is charged with obstructing justice and trafficking in drugs.

Kenneth Ralph Lucas, 33, of Tiltonsville was booked on charges of obstructing official business, possession of drugs and tampering with evidence.

His wife, Brittany Lucas, 34, also of Tiltonsville, is being charged with obstruction.

All except the obstruction charges are felonies.

Four cellphones were seized.

Bridgeport Police Officer Francesca Ceccanese was first on the scene.

“What had originally happened was the husband and wife were making a buy for Suboxone from (Twardoski) at Pizza Hut and it went south,” Ceccanese said in a phone interview.

They tried to rip (Twardoski) off, so she said that she had a gun and jumped in the back of the wife’s car. The wife didn’t know (Twardoski) never had a gun. When the call came in, we all assumed she was being held at gunpoint at that time.”

Ceccanese said Kenneth Ralph Lucas had attempted to run off with the drugs. His wife then reportedly messaged him, saying she was being held by an armed Twardoski.

“He decided to run back and call us instead of helping his wife,” Ceccanese said.

“I arrived on scene. There were three vehicles in that location. It was dark. It’s hard to see. I can’t see into the cars. I went to the first car that looked like it was trying to leave the scene right away, I thought maybe that was my car in question,” Ceccanese said, adding that the husband did not provide the make and model of the car during his call to police. “The husband was the one who stole the Suboxone from the dealer, and he ran and threw the Suboxone.”

Ceccanese recalled the tense and confusing situation.

“The one car was trying to leave. They had just gone through the drive-through. They weren’t involved so I cleared them immediately. The second car that I checked was my suspects. I ordered the female in the back seat out of the car, searched her for any weapons. She didn’t have any weapons on her. Shortly after that, additional units arrived on scene to assist me.”

Law enforcement from Martins Ferry and deputies from the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office responded.

“We still had no idea where the weapon was, if there was even a weapon, and I had three different suspects right there with me,” Ceccanese said. “There was someone just trying to leave the parking lot. They had no idea what was going on, so he was obviously scared for his life. There’s other people just driving by, and they don’t know what’s going on.”

The prescription bottle of Suboxone has not yet been recovered.

The county prosecutor’s office will determine if further charges, such as kidnapping, might be applicable in a case of allegedly holding someone in place by making them believe a gun is present.

“If the prosecutor deems it necessary, they will add those charges on,” Ceccanese said.

She added that since all of the participants came from different areas, their actions were hard to predict.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to get into, especially when you don’t have a description of the car and everybody’s lying to you at one time. You have to decipher what’s true. It was a mess.”

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