Manhunt in Towanda
TOWANDA - Various law enforcement agencies and fire departments were deployed Wednesday when a Towanda man wanted on an aggravated assault charge entered the Susquehanna River in the borough to escape from police, police said.
A warrant for Shawn C. Watkins' arrest had been previously been issued, which stemmed from an incident on Tuesday in which he had gotten into an argument with a woman at an apartment on Main Street in Towanda and punched her repeatedly, causing bruises on her head, face, chest and lungs, police said.
The victim, who told police that it was hard to breathe, was admitted to Memorial Hospital, police said.
At approximately 12:09 p.m. Wednesday, a sheriff's deputy spotted Watkins in the Dandy Mini Mart in Towanda and tried to arrest him, but Watkins ran out of the store, and then ran west on Elizabeth Street, with the sheriff's deputy in pursuit, police said.
However, the sheriff's deputy lost sight of Watkins in the area of Elizabeth Street, and Towanda police officers and other employees of the sheriff's office were summoned to help track him down, police said.
Approximately 10 minutes later, Bradford County Sheriff Clinton "C.J." Walters spotted the 41-year-old Watkins in a channel in the river, located between an island and the Susquehanna's west bank, approximately 150 yards south of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, police said.
From that point on, Watkins was constantly in view of law enforcement officers while he was in the river, police said.
Law enforcement officers on the river bank yelled at Watkins to come to shore, telling him that he was under arrest, police said.
But Watkins refused to come to shore and continued to travel down river, police said. At times, it appeared Watkins was swimming while at other times, he appeared to be walking in the water, Towanda Police Officer Ryan Edsell said.
"Eventually, he listened (to law enforcement) and swam over to the shore, where members of the Sheriff's Office" were able to arrest him, without incident, Edsell said.
Watkins traveled approximately 50 yards down river in his attempt to escape from police, he said.
Watkins was in possession of a hypodermic needle when he was taken into custody, police said.
Watkins did not require medical treatment, police said.
"He said he was cold. That was it," Edsell said.
"He (Watkins) was fine," Towanda Police Sgt. David Lantz said.
However, there were medical personnel standing by in case he needed treatment, Edsell said.
After being taken into custody, Watkins was arraigned by Towanda Magisterial District Judge Timothy Clark on the aggravated assault charge and a simple assault charge, police said.
Both assault charges stem from the incident on Tuesday, police said.
Watkins was then sent to the Bradford County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, police said.
Additional charges, which stem from his escape attempt, will be lodged today against Watkins, including resisting arrest, flight to avoid apprehension, and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.
The female whom Watkins is accused of assaulting was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the hospital said.
The following additional agencies assisted the Towanda police during Wednesday's incident: the state police, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Memorial Hospital EMS, Pennsylvania state constables, and fire companies from Towanda, North Towanda, and Wysox.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email; email@example.com.