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Published: Tuesday, 10/4/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

TOLEDO FIREHOUSE SHOOTINGS

Fire inspector visited strip club, napped on duty, file shows

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN AND ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

About a week before Kevin Wolever was put on administrative leave, he told fire department administrators he went to a strip club instead of completing a fire inspection, according to city records.

The 32-year-old fire inspector’s disciplinary file was released to The Blade Monday, only hours after Mr. Wolever, the son of retired Fire Chief Mike Wolever, was indicted by a Lucas County grand jury on two counts of improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation and one count each of aggravated arson and felonious assault, for three different incidents.

Three of the charges also had gun specifications, including one five-year specification for shooting out of a motor vehicle.

If convicted, Mr. Wolever faces up to 48 years in prison. He was in custody at the Lucas County jail Monday night in lieu of $300,000 bond.

According to the indictment, Mr. Wolever is charged with the Sept. 24 shooting in which an on-duty firefighter was struck, but not injured, by a ricocheting bullet. The incident occurred about 10:20 p.m. at Station 6 on 642 Starr Ave.

Authorities alleged Mr. Wolever shot the front of the fire station and the bullet went into the building, through glass and a wooden office door, then ricocheted off the wall and struck the firefighter in the chin.

Mr. Wolever is also charged with aggravated arson for allegedly leaving an incendiary device outside Station 18 at 5221 Lewis Ave. on Sept. 22.

The Toledo police department bomb squad was called to remove the device and no injuries were reported.

On Sept. 21 — a day when Mr. Wolever failed to show up for work — Toledo fire Capt. John Kaminski detailed seven instances of misconduct — including the strip club visit — in a letter to Don Czerniak, president of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 7.

Sept. 21 is the same day Mr. Wolever was put on paid administrative leave and allegedly shot at Station 6 a first time. He has not been charged in two other incidents that involved shots being fired into fire stations around the same time.

The first documented incident involving the suspect, from Aug. 11, states that Mr. Wolever did not provide a doctor’s note after returning to work on Aug. 26 for taking sick time using the Family Medical Leave Act.

In the letter, Captain Kaminski wrote that, on Sept. 9, Mr. Wolever took a city vehicle home during the day and did not bring it back until hours later when he was called at home. A written statement by Mr. Wolever says, “Stopped home for a moment for a personal reason [and] lost track of time.”

Late return of Jeep

The vehicle was taken by Mr. Wolever about 9 a.m. and due back at noon. He did not return the Jeep until 5 p.m.

Days later, on Sept. 12, Mr. Wolever was caught by a speed-enforcement camera, at Main and Front streets, driving 46 mph in a 35 mph zone in a city vehicle.

“He did not have any work assignments in that area,” Captain Kaminski wrote.

Mr. Wolever included a written response that he went home to take a four-hour nap.

On Sept. 15, Mr. Wolever was told by his supervisor, Lt. David Stout, to walk to a building for an inspection, according to the letter.

Instead of walking, Mr. Wolever drove and submitted a statement that “a man in a pickup tried several times to run me off the road. I was unable to arrive [at] the Covenant House and unable to inspect the building as you ordered.”

A second statement from Mr. Wolever about that incident simply reads “I went to the strip club.”

On Sept. 20, Lieutenant Stout told Mr. Wolever to check in with him before leaving for the day.

About 11:30 a.m., Mr. Wolever told the lieutenant he was going to use the restroom. About five minutes later, he was seen driving away in his personal vehicle, according to the letter. The letter also states that “Kevin continually fails to complete the work that is assigned to him for the day.”

An email in the disciplinary file states that Mr. Wolever was caught going through paperwork on the lieutenant’s desk.

Issue of certification

Additional documentation provided to The Blade shows that Mr. Wolever does not appear to have the same certification as the city’s other six fire inspectors.

Adam Loukx, director of the city’s law department, said fire inspectors only need certification for “some things,” and did not take issue with Mr. Wolever’s lack of certification.

The other six inspectors — five are retired firefighters — have certification through the Department of Commerce Board of Building Standards.

The building-standards certification is used for building code inspections, according to the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office, which is a part of the Department of Commerce. Fire inspections are done separately, according to the state fire marshal’s office.

In general, “anybody can do a fire safety inspection if the city says they can do it,” said State Fire Marshal spokesman Shane Cartmill.

Toledo’s fire inspectors are charged with issuing violations — written warnings to property owners — for anything that does not follow code, said Ellen Grachek, a lawyer with the city’s law department.

They cannot issue citations, which are issued if the owner does not address the violation.

Those are the responsibility of “uniformed fire prevention officers; that’s the fire prevention head or the deputy chief of fire prevention,” Ms. Grachek said.

The disciplinary process has started involving Mr. Wolever’s employment with the city. A union hearing is pending.

3 traffic offenses

Included in Mr. Wolever’s personnel file is a criminal background check that appears to have been completed on Aug. 1, 2008.

Listed are three traffic offenses — a 2004 citation for running a red light, a 2005 citation for failure to stop in assured clear distance, and a 2008 citation for not using a seat belt.

A request filed with the Toledo Police Department for all police reports that list ‘Kevin Wolever’ as either a suspect or victim yielded three reports.

In two, Mr. Wolever is listed as the victim; the first from 2005 when someone broke into his Jeep Wrangler and stole a stereo, binoculars, and the drug Ritalin. In 2009, Mr. Wolever was the victim of an attempted aggravated robbery at Starr and Walden avenues. Two boys approached Mr. Wolever and one of them, who was reported about age 16, pulled out a small folding knife. Mr. Wolever then pulled out his gun and the perpetrators fled, according to the report. At the time, Mr. Wolever had a concealed-carry permit, according to the report.

The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office would not confirm if the conceal-carry permit is still valid.

The third report, the only one that lists Mr. Wolever as a suspect, is from Sept. 24, when he allegedly shot at Fire Station 6 the second time. Mr. Wolever, at the time of his arrest, had a handcuff key in his mouth, was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, and was carrying a 9mm firearm, and two magazines — one in each front pocket.

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



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