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Published: Wednesday, 10/5/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Suspect dismissed as city fire inspector

Failure to attend meeting cited

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kevin Wolever, the Toledo man accused of attacking a fire station in East Toledo, stands in Toledo Municipal Court September 16, 2011. Kevin Wolever, the Toledo man accused of attacking a fire station in East Toledo, stands in Toledo Municipal Court September 16, 2011.
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Kevin Wolever, a criminal suspect and former fire inspector for the city, has been fired.

The 32-year-old, who is accused of at least three violent incidents at two Toledo fire stations, was issued a letter of termination yesterday, which Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago said was delivered to Mr. Wolever's east-side home.

"Administratively, the fire department has exhausted their obligation and its administrative duty to him contractually," Chief Santiago said.

The letter, dated Oct. 4, states that Mr. Wolever's employment would be terminated because he did not attend a loss of seniority meeting the previous day.

"Due to your failure to attend, I have no other alternative than to terminate your employment with the city effective immediately," wrote Chief Santiago.

Mr. Wolever is being held in the Lucas County Jail in lieu of a $300,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Lucas County Common Pleas Court at 1:30 p.m. today on two counts of improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation and one count each of aggravated arson and felonious assault.

Don Czerniak, president of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 7, of which Mr. Wolever is a member, did not return calls for comment.

Mr. Wolever, who was paid $38,466.69 in 2010, was hired on Aug. 15, 2008, while his father Mike Wolever, was the city's fire chief. In July, 2008, the fire inspector job description and requirements were changed to accommodate new certifications, at Chief Wolever's request "to be in compliance" with state requirements.

Chief Santiago said the city law and human resources department were in discussions about whether the changes were made to accommodate Mr. Wolever's hiring.

City Law Director Adam Loukx would not confirm if he was investigating any changes, citing attorney-client privilege.

"I don't believe there was any accommodation made to hire any particular individual," Mr. Loukx said. "I think the classification was changed ... to make the job more available to qualified individuals."

Attempts throughout the past week to reach the former chief have been unsuccessful.

The firing of Mr. Wolever is the latest in a dramatic saga of workplace misconduct and attacks on at least two fire stations.

When Mr. Wolever left his residence on Nevada Avenue on Sept. 24, it's unlikely that he knew Toledo police were watching his every move.

According to search warrants, which were made public yesterday through Toledo Municipal Court, police officers were watching Mr. Wolever's house that night.

One of Mr. Wolever's neighbors, Justin Duncan, said he saw unmarked police cars parked on Main Street, near Nevada, for three days.

When Mr. Wolever left his apartment, officers followed him to Station 6 at 642 Starr Ave.

Officers watched Mr. Wolever at the side of the building and then saw him move to the front -- that's when they heard a single gunshot. Just as he began to walk away, he was confronted by police and arrested.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries during that incident when a ricocheting bullet hit him in the chin.

The mayhem started on Sept. 21 when two gunshots were fired at Station 6 just before 4:30 p.m. One bullet pierced a glass window and the second bullet struck a wall, according to a search warrant. A witness told investigators that a silver Jeep Wrangler, driven by a white man, about 6-feet tall with a solid build, sped away from the station.

The next day, about 10:15 a.m., an open propane tank was found inside a burning bag of charcoal near an overhead door at Station 18 at 5225 Lewis Ave.

That same day, the search warrants affirm that investigators were narrowing in on Mr. Wolever, naming him as a potential suspect in the attacks. The search warrants do not cite a motive for the attacks, but Mr. Wolever, in the days leading up to the first attack, was in trouble with his supervisors for various incidents while on duty, including going to a strip club and going home to take a four-hour nap, according to written reprimands.

Surveillance video from a retail store, which was obtained by Toledo police on Sept. 23, shows a man "matching the physical description and appearance of Kevin Wolever" purchasing a propane tank on Sept. 22, just before the explosive device was discovered. Police said the video also shows that "a male believed to be Wolever" arrived at and left the store in a light-colored Jeep.

The search warrants for Mr. Wolever's residence and Jeep were executed on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 respectively.

From the residence, police took 22 boxes of ammunition for three different guns, six empty boxes of ammunition, four magazines with rounds, boxes for three different guns, a "laser rod box for guide rod," a silver laptop, a flash drive, a Toledo Fire Department inspector uniform shirt, a "tubular item," and a notebook with notes, according to the warrant.

The tubular item was removed by the bomb squad, according to the warrant.

From the Jeep, police took an envelope containing a receipt, a candle lighter and its packaging, a box of ammunition, 10 shell casings, a white plastic cap, and a black plastic cap, according to the warrant.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.



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