By JOSH NEWTON
Two men being held at the Cherokee County Detention Center are accused in a Thursday night home invasion that allegedly ended in an assault and burglary.
Leon Eric Howard, 34, was booked for burglary and assault with a deadly weapon, while 22-year-old Erik Sammy Claphan was booked on burglary charges. Police say the investigation is ongoing and other arrests are possible.
Tahlequah Po -lice Department Public Information Officer Brad Robertson said a woman was treated for injuries at a local hospital Thursday night, and told police a group of people barged into her home in the 700 block of Hillcrest sometime before 10 p.m. The victim knew at least one of the suspects – Howard – and believed he might be headed toward an address in Stilwell when they left.
The victim told officers she was hit in the face and head with the butt end of a shotgun when the suspects forced their way into the home. She and her roommate, along with two young children in the home, were told to get on the floor when the suspects entered the home, according to Robertson.
Police responded to the scene of the home invasion, but were unable to find the suspects. Robertson said the house looked as if it had been burglarized.
Authorities in Cherokee and Adair counties were asked to be on the lookout for the vehicle Howard, Claphan and the others were believed to be traveling in.
Tahlequah detectives were called to the scene on Hillcrest to investigate, and Stilwell police later notified officers they had made contact with the suspects in Adair County. Several of them ran into a home, according to Robertson, but were later detained. Tahlequah police drove to Stilwell and transported Howard and Claphan back to the city, where they were interviewed and booked into jail.
Robertson said the shotgun that was allegedly used to strike the woman in the face and head was recovered, but officers on Friday were still trying to locate other items that might have been stolen from inside the home.
Court records show Howard has been charged nine times in the past 11 years in Cherokee County for cases of domestic abuse-assault and battery, domestic assault and battery by strangulation, or assault with a dangerous weapon; and also has several other previous misdemeanor and felony cases.
According to court records, Claphan was charged March 14 in Cherokee County with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and public intoxication.
Booking records at the Cherokee County Detention Center indicate Howard was held on a $150,000 bond on his latest charges, while Claphan was handed a $100,000 bond.