Loading…
Friday, April 18, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
HomeNewsLocal
Published: 4/29/2009

Bond set at $2 million in West Toledo hostage-taking case

BY ROBERTA DE BOER AND CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
The suspect, Michael Swiergosz, is led away in handcuffs after hours of negotiations with Toledo police officers. The suspect, Michael Swiergosz, is led away in handcuffs after hours of negotiations with Toledo police officers.
THE BLADE/LORI KING Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Barbara Swiergosz runs with an offi cer of the police SWAT team after being released as a hostage at The Woodlands apartments, part of the Sunset House complex on Indian Road. Barbara Swiergosz runs with an offi cer of the police SWAT team after being released as a hostage at The Woodlands apartments, part of the Sunset House complex on Indian Road.
Enlarge
A Toledo police officer prepares himself moments before other offi cers bring out the suspect, Michael
Swiergosz. He faces multiple felonious assault and kidnapping charges. A Toledo police officer prepares himself moments before other offi cers bring out the suspect, Michael Swiergosz. He faces multiple felonious assault and kidnapping charges.
THE BLADE/LORI KING Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Part of a West Toledo community was placed on lockdown after a man brought a gun to The Woodlands apartments. Part of a West Toledo community was placed on lockdown after a man brought a gun to The Woodlands apartments.
Enlarge

Bond was set at $2 million for the man who held his estranged wife hostage for nearly six hours at a West Toledo retirement community on Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Swiergosz, 46, was arraigned in Toledo Municipal Court on Wednesday morning and bond was set at $500,000 on each of the two counts of felonious assault and two counts of kidnapping that he has been charged with. He was returned to jail immediately after the arraignment.

Hostage negotiators exchanged dozens of phone calls with the man they said held his wife at gunpoint in an afternoon-long standoff at the West Toledo retirement community where she worked.

By 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Swiergosz put his gun down and came out with his hands in the air, Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre said.

Before that, senior citizens were evacuated from their homes and nearby schools were locked down in an area of town better known for peace and quiet.

Hostage negotiators exchanged dozens of phone calls with the man they said held his wife at gunpoint in an afternoon-long standoff at the West Toledo retirement community where she worked.

By 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Swiergosz put his gun down and came out with his hands in the air, Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre said.

Before that, senior citizens were evacuated from their homes and nearby schools were locked down in an area of town better known for peace and quiet.

When Mr. Swiergosz surrendered, five SWAT officers led the handcuffed man to a white police van.

Moments earlier, Mr. Swiergosz s estranged wife, Barbara, 36, fled from an unoccupied apartment at the Sunset House complex, 4030 Indian Rd., where police said her husband had held her captive.

Wearing a bathrobe, her hair matted with blood, she was hustled away by a police SWAT team member who took her to a smaller building some 100 yards away.

Mrs. Swiergosz was under a court protection order, granted after her husband allegedly threatened her and barricaded himself for hours in his Springfield Township home last month.

Shortly before lunchtime yesterday, police said, Mr. Swiergosz walked into an apartment complex at Sunset House known as The Woodlands, where Mrs. Swiergosz is the director of activities.

Pointing a gun at a female employee near the entrance, police said, he threatened to kill her unless she summoned his wife.

When Mrs. Swiergosz appeared, police said he hit her in the head with a crowbar.

The other, unidentified worker escaped.

Then Mr. Swiergosz allegedly took his wife at gunpoint into an unoccupied first-floor apartment, where Chief Navarre said he bound her with duct tape.

The suspect faces arraignment today in Toledo Municipal Court on multiple felonious assault and kidnapping charges.

Last month, Lucas County sheriff s deputies went to Mr. Swiergosz s home, 111 Hidden Meadow Drive, on a domestic-violence call.

They said he fired two shots and then barricaded himself with a gun for three hours on March 10.

Two days later, Mrs. Swiergosz asked for protection from the county Domestic Relations Court.

She said in her request that her husband came out with a gun and fired when she tried to drop off their daughter at the residence on March 10, the day of the earlier standoff.

According to the complaint, he threatened to kill their daughter if he couldn t kill Mrs. Swiergosz. His wife said he stuck a gun in her mouth and tore off her shirt.

A Lucas County grand jury indicted Mr. Swiergosz on two counts of felonious assault for the March standoff. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was released on bail.

Judge David Lewandowski granted a two-year protection order on April 7, forbidding Mr. Swiergosz from coming within 500 feet of his wife or any of their four children, ages 16, 12, 6, and 8 weeks.

The wife and children, the judge wrote, are in immediate and present danger for domestic violence.

The court order also specified that Mr. Swiergosz stay away from his wife s workplace.

Court records indicate Mr. Swiergosz filed for divorce April 3, contending that his wife was guilty of gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty toward him.

Tuesday, shortly after he holed up at Sunset House, a police SWAT team swarmed the retirement complex, which borders Ottawa Hills and is across from St. Ursula Academy.

St. Ursula, Christ the King elementary school, and nearby Ottawa Hills schools were on lockdown.

As the day wore on, worried family members of residents living in the retirement community gathered on the street outside.

Early in the standoff, Mr. Swiergosz asked for Lucas County Sheriff s Sgt. William Talbott, who had negotiated with him during the March standoff.

Police at that time suggested Mr. Swiergosz, described in court documents as an unemployed mortgage broker, was distraught over the scheduled foreclosure of his house.

Tuesday, police pointed to ongoing domestic problems.

Chief Navarre said he was unsure what role, if any, the family s financial situation played.

But he said Mr. Swiergosz threatened to kill his wife and himself, and did a lot of crying while talking about his family.

I listened to a lot of the conversation, and he wanted assurances from her that his parents would be able to see [their children], and that they d be taken regularly to church, said Chief Navarre.

From monitoring the cell phone calls by speaker phone, the chief said, he got the sense Mr. Swiergosz wanted to address specific issues with his estranged wife.

He had a whole list of questions, Chief Navarre said. I believe he had a list in front of him, and he was going down the list.

He said he and a SWAT team member listened in as negotiators, led by sheriff s Sergeant Talbott, spent most of the afternoon talking with Mr. Swiergosz.

They d talk for five or 10 minutes, then one of them would call the other back again in 10 minutes or so. There were dozens of calls, said the chief.

At one point, police delivered a fresh cell phone to Mr. Swiergosz.

Meanwhile, the chief added, the SWAT team was ready to go, waiting outside the apartment door.

Chief Navarre said Mr. Swiergosz was armed with a 40-caliber Glock semiautomatic gun, similar to what police are issued.

We had information halfway through this ordeal that he d been at somebody s house, and that there was a gun missing, said the chief.

Perrysburg Township police confirmed they were investigating a burglary at a Dowling Road home reported earlier in the day.

Earlier this month, Mr. Swiergosz was released from the county jail on a $50,000 cash bond for the March stalemate. Court documents list Barry Stephens as the person who put up the money.

Mr. Stephens home, 615 Scenic Circle, is the same Springfield Township address listed most recently for Mr. Swiergosz in criminal court records.

Mr. Stephens declined yesterday to comment when approached by a reporter at his home.

During the hostage situation yesterday, Mr. Swiergosz s bond was revoked and reset at $500,000 with no 10 percent.

For the past several weeks, according to neighbors, Mrs. Swiergosz has lived with her four children and mother at 2803 Jodore. The backyard is directly across from The Woodlands rear building where Mrs. Swiergosz worked.

A neighbor, Joe Tehensky, said SWAT team members crawled across the retirement facilities rooftops that afternoon.

Police said the couple s four children were at Sunset House during the standoff and were pretty distraught.

During a midafternoon news conference, Chief Navarre said they were safe and with us in a different building, as was Mrs. Swiergosz s mother.

Police said some residents were evacuated or moved to other areas of the Sunset complex.

Across the street, St. Ursula students were dismissed later than usual.

We absolutely had no clue what was going on, senior Sarah Estep, 17, said. We thought it was a drill.

She said students began to text friends at nearby Ottawa Hills High School to learn about the hostage-taking. Her teacher, she added, went online for details.

Chief Navarre said Mrs. Swiergosz did not appear badly injured, and was treated at the scene.

Staff writers Tom Henry, JC Reindl, and Janet Romaker contributed to this report.

Contact Roberta de Boer at:419-724-6086 or,roberta@theblade.com.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.



Poll