By Jeff Gallatin
A former Florida man is facing burglary charges after North Olmsted SWAT officers had to go into a Columbia Road apartment to get him March 1 when he refused to come out.
Andrew Thomas, 26, formerly of Boca Raton, Fla., had bond set at $10,000 after he was arraigned on the charges Thursday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. After an investigation showed Thomas was staying in a woman’s apartment above a Columbia Road business, police went to arrest him for two recent burglaries. When Thomas refused to come out, the SWAT team waited for about two hours before going in to get him. No one else was in the apartment at the time. No injuries were reported.
Police Capt. Mike Kilbane said the potential of Thomas having a gun was the primary reason the SWAT team was called out when they found out Thomas was staying in the apartment above the delicatessen on Columbia Road.
“This was a combination of good work by both the uniformed officers in the area and the detective bureau checking out leads and following up,” Kilbane said. “Because we knew he apparently had taken at least one weapon (a rifle) in one of the incidents, we called out the SWAT team to help secure the area. When he refused to come out, they waited for the best time, then forced entry and removed him. It went well, so within a few minutes they took down the perimeter in the area.”
North Olmsted police Detective Dan Barrett said the charges stem from two late-February incidents on Columbia Road where homes were entered during the day.
“He would knock on people’s doors to see if they were around,” Barrett said. “If he saw someone, he would ask if they needed their gutters cleaned out at their homes.”
Barrett said Thomas has warrants out for his arrest as a result of similar incidents in Florida, but noted he has been in northern Ohio for about a year.
“He didn’t have a set address in this area,” Barrett said. “He has been in North Olmsted for a little bit.”
Barrett said different items were taken during the incidents, including an unloaded .30-30 rifle from one household.
“They mostly were things you could grab quickly and sell,” Barrett said. “We recovered the gun and most of the other items.”