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Published: Tuesday, 4/28/2009

Sunset House hostage released; suspect in police custody

BLADE STAFF

A woman being held by her estranged husband inside her workplace at a retirement community in West Toledo has been taken to a safe location. The suspect is in police custody.

Michael Swiergosz, 46, had been holding his estranged wife, Barbara, in a room in a rear building at the Sunset House. She had been held hostage for about five hours before she was released.

She ran free from the location wearing a bath robe. Her estranged husband was taken into custody and is facing multiple felonious assault and kidnapping charges.

Shortly before 4 p.m., Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre held an impromtu press conference outside Sunset House and said negotiators have been talking to both Mr. and Mrs. Swiergosz.

"Right now, we're just going to wait," the chief said.

He said that there is a perimeter of law officers around the building and that other than Mrs. Swiergosz no one is in danger.

The chief said the suspect entered the building at 4030 Indian Rd., pointed a gun at a female employee and ordered her to call his estranged wife. He then locked the employee in an office.

When Mrs. Swiergosz arrived on the scene, the employee was able to escape and called 911.

The couple is now barricaded in an apartment on the first floor and have been talking to three negotiators, although officers have no visual contact.

"He's acting calm and rational, most of the time," the chief said, adding that officers are ready to go in if needed.

Chief Navarre said that the couple's children and her mother are in another building on the grounds.

He said officers received a call at 11:26 a.m. on Tuesday morning that there was a man with a gun who had just entered the Sunset House. It quickly became apparent that the man in question was Mr. Swiergosz, who just six weeks ago holed up in his Springfield Township home and held police officers at bay for three hours.

The incident prompted the lock down of schools in Ottawa Hills, St. Ursula Academy, Christ the King elementary school.

Mr. Swiergosz requested to speak with Lucas County Sheriff's Sgt. William Talbott who was the negotiator during the March incident involving Mr. Swiergosz.

Sergeant Talbott was on the scene Tuesday afternoon, as was Toledo Police Chief Michael Navarre. SWAT team members are also on the scene.

According to Lucas County court records, Mr. Swiergosz filed for divorce from his wife on April 3.

Mrs. Swiergosz has been living in a home on nearby Jodore Avenue that is owned by the same owner of the Sunset House. Neighbors of that home said she moved into the home six to eight weeks ago.

Also living there are her mother and four children, the neighbors reported.

Police are shown at the Sunset House at 4040 Indian Road. Police are shown at the Sunset House at 4040 Indian Road.
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Records from Springfield Township schools indicate that there are three Swiergosz children in that school system. The neighbors of the Jodore Avenue home said there is a younger child as well in the Swiergosz home.

At one point during Tuesday's standoff, the mother of Mrs. Swiergosz frantically ran to a black vehicle with New York license plates and then was driven away in another vehicle.

While unlocking the black Equinox, the mother said, "They're talking to her. That's all we know."

When asked how she was doing, she responded, "I don't know. I don't know whether she's dead or alive."

Mr. Swiergosz last week appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court and pleaded not guilty to two counts of felonious assault stemming from the March standoff. He has a June 10 trial date in that case and faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted.

He posted a $25,000 cash bond April 20. Late Tuesday afternoon, Lucas County Commn Pleas Judge Denise Ann Dartt revoked the $25,000 cash bond and reset it at $500,000 with no 10 percent.

During the March incident, Lucas County Sheriff's deputies were sent to Mr. Swiergosz's home on a report of domestic violence and shots fired. Authorities said he had fired two shots before they arrived - one into the ground and one into the air.

His home had been scheduled for sheriff's sale on May 13.

He has been listed as a founder of the Lambertville-based Money Minders Inc. It provides mortgage loans and home refinancing options to customers.



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