A Cleveland Heights man who convinced a shooting suspect to turn himself in Tuesday night credits his training as a safety officer in Cleveland Schools.
Eric Simpkins said he met 22-year-old Gregory Prince, of Cleveland, at a McDonald’s in Brunswick where Prince gave Simpkins his weapon following a reported shooting about 7:30 p.m. at Ray Mellert Park in Medina.
“I just talked to him on the telephone and he asked me to come out and meet him, so I did,” Simpkins said Thursday. “I didn’t want him to have a shootout with the police and hurt himself or anyone else.”
Simpkins has worked as a school safety officer for more than 15 years with Cleveland Schools. Chief Lester Fultz, who oversees the metropolitan school district’s safety forces, said Simpkins works at Cleveland’s John Hay campus and is an excellent employee.
Prince is charged with felonious assault and kidnapping in the shooting of 32-year-old Jose Algarin near the park’s Foundry Street parking lot.
After the shooting, Medina police said Prince ran to his cousin’s home nearby and asked her to drive him. His cousin, Diamond Glenn, and Prince then called Simpkins.
Simpkins, who called Glenn and Prince his cousins, said his training as a school resource officer kicked in when he heard Prince may have been involved in a shooting and had a gun.
“I do have a background in safety and that may have played into it,” he said. “When I intervened, I had to reassure him that everything would be OK.”
Simpkins left his home in Cleveland Heights and headed toward Medina County after he agreed to meet the pair at a McDonald’s in Brunswick. He contacted police.
“At that particular time, I retrieved the gun,” Simpkins said. He locked the gun in the trunk of his vehicle and waited with Prince at McDonald’s until police arrived.
Prince was arrested without incident. Simpkins said police reports that Prince held Glenn at gunpoint while driving around may be exaggerated. He said Prince did not threaten Glenn’s life while she drove him around.
“I don’t know what he was thinking or struggling with. It’s very unusual for him,” he said of Prince. “It was a shock to me and to everyone.”
Glenn is doing OK, Simpkins said.
Simpkins said his family’s prayers are with Algarin, who remains in fair condition after having a bullet removed from the back of his head Wednesday.
“I’m glad he was brought to safety and we were glad to hear he’s alive,” he said.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.