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Published: Sunday, 4/17/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Suspect killed after officer shot in leg in South Toledo

Authorities serving warrant anticipated resistance

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Samuel Birch was killed by Toledo police at 225 Linden Place after he reportedly shot an officer in the leg when being served with a warrant. Samuel Birch was killed by Toledo police at 225 Linden Place after he reportedly shot an officer in the leg when being served with a warrant.
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A shootout Saturday resulted in the death of a drug felon and the wounding of a Toledo police officer.

Dead at the South Toledo scene was Samuel T. Birch, 24, of 225 Linden Place, who was convicted of possession of cocaine and heroin last year in Lucas County Common Pleas Court and sentenced to community control, according to court records.

Officer Robert Orwig, 43, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was recovering at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center from a leg injury. He was shot in the right calf, midway between the ankle and the knee, Police Chief Mike Navarre said.

The gunfire was exchanged about 1:30 a.m. while four members of the police SWAT team were at the Linden address trying to serve Birch an arrest warrant. Authorities said he violated his sentence by failing to finish a drug-treatment program.

Officer Orwig and Officer Neil Piasecki went to the front door of the house near Western Avenue and Broadway as two other officers, Richard Holland and Jeffrey Hood, went to the rear, Chief Navarre said.

Birch came to the door and was asked by the officers "if Sammy was there," the chief said.

Birch replied there was nobody at the house by that name, then pulled out a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun and fired two rounds.

Booking photo of Samuel T. Birch, taken Aug. 25, 2010. Booking photo of Samuel T. Birch, taken Aug. 25, 2010.
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On the second shot, Birch's firearm jammed. The two officers returned fire, with Officer Orwig firing three times and Officer Piasecki firing eight times, the chief said.

Birch was struck at least six times, Dr. Maneesha Pandey, a deputy Lucas County coroner, said after the autopsy yesterday. Dr. Pandey said the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds with most injuries sustained in the chest and abdomen.

The slug striking Officer Orwig passed through his lower leg, fracturing the fibula, which is the smaller bone behind the shin. Officer Orwig also received a gash on his forehead when he dove over a porch rail. He was in considerable pain, Chief Navarre said.

The chief said the slug that passed through the officer's leg probably came from Birch's weapon, which was later found to contain six more live rounds.

Officer Piasecki was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the Firearms Review Board. Such leaves are required after shootings, Chief Navarre said.

Officer Orwig served in Iraq as a member of Toledo's 323rd Military Police Company.

In the house at the time of the shooting were Chanel Scott, Birch's girlfriend, and her two children, 12 and 5, Chief Navarre said.

They did not witness the shooting, they said.

Michael Sifford, on his porch at 242 Linden Place, says the shooting won't make him move. 'Nobody is going to run me off.' He said he heard the shooting and watched as police cordoned off the street. Michael Sifford, on his porch at 242 Linden Place, says the shooting won't make him move. 'Nobody is going to run me off.' He said he heard the shooting and watched as police cordoned off the street.
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Chief Navarre said Birch had served time in prison and had said he "would not be taken alive."

The chief said four officers were used because resistance was anticipated.

"Most warrants are served with a couple of officers. This was a dangerous situation," Chief Navarre said.

Neighbors recalled hearing shots and seeing police and fire crews swarm the area.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click to see images.

Officer Orwig was talking before he was transported, the chief said.

Ashley Cook of 229 Linden said she was watching TV with her boyfriend and 8-year-old son when the shooting occurred. She said she watched from her porch as police reinforcements arrived. The front of her house bears bullet holes from a drive-by shooting last July.

"My lease is up this year and I'm going to try to find something else," she said.

Beverly Venson, who said she was Birch's aunt, sobbed outside the Linden house. She said her nephew was a marijuana user but knew nothing about other drug use.

She described Birch as "hyper and real outspoken. He would speak his mind."

Michael Sifford of 242 Linden said he heard the shooting and watched as police taped off the scene and closed the street to traffic.

Ashley Cook said she was watching television with her family when she heard the shots. Her house at 229 Linden still bears the bullets from a drive-by shooting in July. She said she plans to move from the area. Ashley Cook said she was watching television with her family when she heard the shots. Her house at 229 Linden still bears the bullets from a drive-by shooting in July. She said she plans to move from the area.
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"The neighborhood has its troubles, but most of the time it's OK. They've torn down a lot of the drug houses. I'm here for the duration," he said, pointing to two German shepherds, Wolf and Kennedy, he keeps for security. "Nobody is going to run me off."

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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