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Police say boyfriend used fake gun to spring woman from hospital

LEBANON — The Lancaster County man accused of taking his girlfriend from a local mental health facility last month at gunpoint used a fake gun.

That detail emerged at the preliminary hearing Thursday for Elliot Ravert, 18, of Narvon, who is accused of taking Alicia Buzzard from the Philhaven facility in Cornwall on Aug. 9. The pair was found Aug. 12 when they were arrested for shoplifting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

Ravert is charged with two felony counts of robbery and two counts of aggravated assault, as well as a two misdemeanor counts of making terroristic threats. 

Lebanon County District Attorney David Arnold asked Cornwall police Sgt. Brett Hopkins whether the black air pistol Ravert is said to have used looked real.

“Absolutely,” Hopkins replied, adding that the gun was found about 150 yards away from the hospital.

Ravert was known to Philhaven staff, who were under orders not to admit him to see Buzzard, Samantha Mertz, because he had violated rules. When he was told he couldn’t see Buzzard on Aug. 9, he asked to a nurse and her assistant.

The nurse, Jocelyn Ramirez-Harrell, said Ravert asked her to see Buzzard and pulled a gun from his waist when she told him he could not see his girlfriend.

“He said, ‘I’m not afraid to shoot you,'” Ramirez-Harrell testified, adding that she saw everything but the tip of the barrel of the gun and thought it was a real firearm.

Ravert then took her portable radio, got Buzzard and fled with her. Ramirez-Harrell said she didn’t see if Ravert had the gun in his hands because she was concerned with calling police.

“I saw them run off towards the stairways, but I quickly closed the doors afterwards so they couldn’t come back,” Ramirez-Harrell testified.

Ravert’s attorney, Michael Asbell, pushed to have charges dropped or reduced. Asbell unsuccessfully argued that a robbery did not occur because Ravert didn’t take the nurse’s portable radio for an extended period of time and was found at the hospital.

District Judge John Dixler bound Ravert over to trial on all six counts, noting that Asbell’s arguments may be appropriate for trial but are irrelevant for establishing enough cause to send the case forward.

Dixler also declined to lower Ravert’s $150,000 bail, pointing to the fact that he was arrested in South Carolina and is a flight risk. Ravert was taken back to Lebanon County Prison, where he said he had been attacked by a cellmate.

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