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The Suburbanite
  • Nuisance house boarded up after SWAT sweep

  • SWAT team and police officers swarm 901 Sixth St. SW Monday morning, making good on a notice to vacate.

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  • Neighbors watched with guarded encouragement Monday morning as the Canton Police Department SWAT team swarmed a ramshackle, two-story house at 901 Sixth St. SW.
    At the front door — more officers guarding the rear — they shouted repeatedly, “Canton police. Make yourself known.”
    No response. With the crash of a door ram, the house was open.
    The team, along with officers in squad and unmarked cars, was there to enforce a preliminary injunction to vacate ordered by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione.
    The home, owned by the Mann family, has a long history of criminal activity. Neighbors said Robert “Bobby” Mann, 49, one of the siblings who own the house, was seen loading belongings into vehicles early Monday morning prior to the 8 a.m. deadline imposed by Forchione.
    “Our orders were to arrest anyone who was inside,” said Lt. John Gabbard, commander of the special investigations unit. “Everyone was gone.”
    The home’s rundown exterior reflected what officers and Canton City Health Department inspectors found inside — spoiled food, cockroaches and litter.
    However, living conditions in the structure were not the reason for the injunction. It was the people who neighbors say streamed in and out at all hours of the day and night.
    The house, its occupants and visitors have been a blight on a neighborhood that stubbornly struggles to fight crime while upholding family values.
    Travis Brunner and his wife Ginger Carpenter have lived in an apartment behind the Mann house for six years.
    Patrol cars are regular sights and Brunner said they have read with dread newspaper stories about the calls police answer including rape, a deadly assault, prostitution and drug trafficking.
    They did not feel safe allowing their four children to play outside because of the criminal element that spilled out of the Mann house.
    “We take our kids down to their grandmother’s to play,” he said. “And my wife and I are here today to give the police a round of applause.”
    “You just tried to stay away from Bobby (Mann),” said Carpenter. “You would see him outside with a gun. It wasn’t safe for anyone.”
    Another neighbor stood with the couple but declined to give his name fearing retribution. He and his family have lived in their  home for more than 50 years.
    “There’s a lot of traffic in there. Just this past weekend, I saw at least 30 or 40 people, “he said. “I’m concerned this won’t do any good. Maybe they’ll just come back and break in or squatters will be there or maybe Bobby Mann.”  
     Mann is no stranger to law enforcement, said Gabbard.
    “I think we raided him here three times. And we had a search warrant last year in an abduction case,” he recalled. “The problem here is that it is owner occupied. When it’s a rental and we have probable cause for a search warrant, we can notify the landlord and the landlord evicts them.  But his mother owned it and she left it to her kids. It’s still in his mother’s name.”
    Page 2 of 2 - But Forchione’s ruling was succinct.
    “The court is fed up with the constant drug activity, shootings, murders and acts of arson that have recently taken place,” the judge wrote. “This community is looking for someone to make a statement regarding this issue. This court intends on making a statement very loud and clear.”
    Workers boarded up the house Monday and it will remain that way for a year while the city’s case against the Manns is pending in court. Mark Adams, director of environmental health with the city health department, walked through the house with two inspectors after officers cleared it.
    “I don’t see it as a public health issue as much as it is a structural issue,” he said, noting daylight visible at window frames, fallen ceilings and holes in floors.  
    As for Bobby Mann and his reign of neighborhood intimidation, well, police still have him in their sights.
    “We have taken all appropriate precautions,” said Gabbard. “He is a dangerous individual.”