A wanted man thought he could hide his identity from police by chewing off his fingertips.
But his gnawing was all for naught.
His distinctive tattoos gave him away anyway.
Tallmadge police arrested Kirk Kelly, 24, of Tampa, Fla., on charges of evidence tampering, resisting arrest, falsification and obstructing official business. He’s in the Summit County Jail, where he awaits extradition to Florida on charges of racketeering, delivery of ecstasy, having firearms and ammunition as a felon, having firearms while engaging in crime, unlawful use of a two-way device, possessing controlled substances and transporting drug paraphernalia.
Tallmadge Police Chief Ron Williams said Kelly’s main business was illegally selling firearms.
Kelly’s arrest was a stroke of luck.
An officer was parked near an apartment complex in the 200 block of North Thomas Road when he saw a group of people get into a vehicle at about 3 a.m. Sunday.
The situation seemed suspicious, so Williams said the officer ran the vehicle’s license plates and found the owner had a suspended driver’s license.
The officer pulled over the car and asked the occupants to identify themselves.
Kelly gave two false identities, including his brother’s name.
“So they tell the guy they’re going to check his fingerprints with a mobile device we’ve got that can check them,” Williams said, “and the guy responded by actually chewing his fingertips so he couldn’t be identified.”
However, officers asked Tampa police for other identifying marks and discovered Kelly had numerous distinctive tattoos on his chest.
Florida records show that Kelly has a history of crime dating back to at least 2008. He’s faced charges of robbery, battery, aggravated battery with a weapon, delivery and sale of marijuana, obstructing a police officer, driving under the influence of alcohol and burglary.
Steve Hegarty, a public information officer for Tampa police, confirmed Kelly was wanted.
“We’ve been looking for him since September,” Hegarty said. “There are some guys down here who are really glad he’s been caught.”
“Tampa was telling our officers that Kirk Kelly is related to a lot of illegal gun sales,” Williams said, “and they’ve linked a number of homicides to the guns he’s sold.”
The Crime Stoppers of Tampa were offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to Kelly’s arrest, according to their website.
Nick Glunt can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGluntABJ.bad