Wayne County deputies believe sex offenders, posed as cops, were planning a citizen's arrest

WOOSTER, Ohio - Wayne County deputies believe two convicted sex offenders posed as police officers and hatched a plan to make a citizen's arrest of a woman, but the scheme was foiled during a traffic stop.

On Oct. 6, deputies pulled over a car for driving erratically on Eby Road in Green Township near Wooster. The license plate also did not match the vehicle.

Inside the car, they found the driver, Erik Brubaker, 35, of Medina, and passenger, Caleb Barnhart, 20, of Wadsworth. Both men are registered sex offenders in Medina County.

Deputies were immediately concerned when Brubaker stepped out of the vehicle wearing a shirt with the word "police" sewn onto it. There was also a metal badge on the shirt, and Brubaker wore a belt that held handcuffs and pepper spray.

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Barnhart also had a metal badge on his shirt.

"It's concerning to me that they went go the lengths of dressing the part of a law enforcement officer," said Captain Doug Hunter. "Short of a costume party of some type, I can think of no logical reason an individual would wear a uniform identifying himself as a police officer."

News 5 obtained body camera video showing the encounter between deputies and the convicted sex offenders.

During questioning, Barnhart said Brubaker gave him the badge and admitted it was weird.

"He says he was going to arrest someone over in Wadsworth, make a citizen's arrest," Barnhart told a deputy.

Questioned separately, Brubaker said he was planning to confront a woman in Wadsworth, claiming she lied in a criminal case against one of his best friends.

"I was gonna get a recorded statement... her confessing," Brubaker said. "I wasn't going to do nothing to her."

However, Captain Hunter believes the traffic stop may have prevented a crime.

"The phrase that the one suspect used that they were 'going to take this person away,' so I take that as abduction, kidnapping or even worse," Hunter said.

Brubaker was arrested for driving under suspension, but posted bond and was released from the Wayne County Jail.

Barnhart was booked into the jail on a probation violation.

Hunter said prosecutors will review the case and consider other charges, including intimidation of a witness and impersonating a police officer.

Medina County records show Brubaker was convicted of gross sexual imposition against a victim under the age of 13. Records indicate Barnhart was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

 

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