By Kevin Kelley
Police arrested Brian Wasko, a 32-year-old Westlake man, Monday in connection with two bomb threats made against Gilles-Sweet Elementary School this month.
The school, located on West 220th street, was evacuated Monday morning in response to one of the threats. Students were taken to the former New Hope Church property, now owned by the school district, while police searched the building. No harmful devices were found, school officials said.
Gilles-Sweet was closed for all of Monday, district officials said. Students in grades one through three were taken to the Early Education Center located at 21620 Mastick Road, to be picked up by parents. Fourth- and fifth-graders have remained at the former New Hope Church property at 5575 West 220th Street where they awaited their parents.
Police Chief Erich Upperman told West Life that a text message containing the bomb threat was sent to the personal cell phone of a Fairview Park police officer. A similar threat was made against the elementary school on Oct. 8, police said. Both threats were signed with the same name.
Police interviewed the Cleveland man whose name was attached to the threats. He provided police with the name of Wasko, who he said has a grudge against him, Upperman said. According to Fairview Park police, the hard feelings between the two men centers on a business dispute.
Wasko was seen by police out on the street near the elementary school witnessing the evacuation, Upperman said. When police questioned him, he initially denied any involvement with the threat, the police chief said. About 10 minutes later, he called police and later confessed to making the threats, Upperman said.
Wasko has been charged with two counts of inducing panic, said Upperman, who assumed the job of police chief today. Former Police Chief Patrick Nealon retired Friday.
According to Wasko’s LinkedIn page, he is vice president and a partner at Beyond Pc, a computer repair shop in Fairview Park. The business is located just around the corner from Gilles-Sweet Elementary School.