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SWAT team responds to man barricaded inside Parma home
The SWAT team is on the scene after a man barricaded himself inside a Parma home Friday morning, police said. PARMA, Ohio -- The SWAT team is on the scene after a man barricaded himself inside a Parma home Friday morning, police said. About 10:15 a.m., Parma police Lt. Kevin Riley confirmed the SWAT team was at a home in the area of Broadview Road and Panorama Drive. Police did not know if the man had a weapon or was holding hostages, Riley said. An emergency alert sent out by Cuyahoga County around the same time said a male was ejected from a vehicle during a crash in the 6500 block of Broadview Road. Rescuers could not get to the crash victim because of the man barricaded in the home, the alert said. Riley said he did not know if the crash was related to the standoff. This is a developing story. A cleveland.com reporter is en route to the scene. If you wish to discuss or comment on this story, please visit our crime and courts comments section. Like Chanda Neely on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter: Follow @ChandaNeely // !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs'); // ]]>
212 points by The Plain Dealer | Cuyahoga County Ohio Police Parma Ohio Broadview Heights Ohio North Royalton Ohio SWAT Ohio Brecksville Ohio
Strongsville takes up medical marijuana issue
Strongsville fell in line with the three other Ohio 82 cities in Cuyahoga County on Tuesday night and established a moratorium on medical marijuana. STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - On Tuesday night, Strongsville fell in line with three other Ohio 82 cities in Cuyahoga County and established a moratorium on medical marijuana. The moratorium, which City Council approved, will prohibit the growing, processing and selling of marijuana for six months. New Ohio legislation allows patients, starting this week, to use medical marijuana prescribed by doctors, but the state has not nailed down the law's details. "The moratorium gives us the ability to see what the state is going to do and decide if the city needs to introduce its own zoning legislation," Law Director Neal Jamison said Tuesday night. Last week, Broadview Heights City Council voted unanimously to establish a 12-month moratorium on medical marijuana. Brecksville and North Royalton city councils were expected to approve six-month medical marijuana moratoriums, and may have done so Tuesday night. Broadview Heights establishes one-year moratorium on medical marijuana Several other Cuyahoga County communities, including Lakewood, and municipalities throughout Ohio, including Beavercreek, Troy and Piqua, have also approved medical marijuana moratoriums. Rocky River has introduced legislation that would ban the growing, processing and selling of medical marijuana. The new state law - House Bill 523, which Gov. John Kasich signed in June - already provides some restrictions on medical marijuana. For example, no one can grow, process or sell marijuana within 500 feet of a school, church, library, playground or park. Also, no one is allowed to grown marijuana in their homes. HB 523 authorizes municipal governments to establish their own medical marijuana regulations. Local governments can restrict locations where marijuana is cultivated, processed or sold, or they can ban the growing and selling of marijuana altogether. However, municipalities can't stop patients from using medical marijuana. Strongsville Councilman Joe DeMio said council hasn't yet decided whether the city should ban the growing and selling of medical marijuana here. He said such a debate is premature. But DeMio did express concern that HB 523 might contradict federal law, which still lists marijuana as an illegal drug. He asked Jamison to prepare a memo on the state versus federal laws. This story has been updated. 
120 points by The Plain Dealer | Cuyahoga County Ohio North Royalton Ohio Broadview Heights Ohio Municipality Parma Ohio United States Congress United States Local government in the United States
Cleveland cop accused of raping girlfriend also sent lewd pics of himself, prosecutors say
Tommie Griffin III, the Cleveland police officer accused of raping and pistol-whipping his girlfriend, also sent lewd photographs of himself to someone, police say. Watch video CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland police officer accused of raping and pistol-whipping his girlfriend also sent lewd photographs of himself to an unspecified person involved in the investigation, police say. Patrolman Tommie Griffin III sent the photographs on Jan. 13, the day before he is accused of attacking his 42-year-old girlfriend in the home they shared on State Road in Parma, according to a 6-count indictment. Griffin has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He remains jailed on $250,000 bond, and is suspended without pay until his case is over. Police say Griffin attacked his girlfriend while she slept, a day after he caught her with another man in their State Road home. He sat on top of her and pistol-whipped her, then fired two shots from a 9mm handgun into the mattress, inches from her head, police said. Griffin then ordered the woman to shower, forced her into the basement and made her perform a sex act on him at gunpoint, records say. Griffin drove from the home to a bar in North Royalton after the attack. Police in that city arrested Griffin at gunpoint. A search warrant at Griffin's Sate Road home and in a vehicle there turned up 67 guns, including multiple AR-15 model rifles and an Uzi, according to court records. Investigators also uncovered the photographs. Parma police and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office would not say to whom Griffin is accused of sending the photographs. Griffin was hired as a Cleveland police officer in 1994. He was awarded the department's distinguished service medal in 2009.  To comment on this story, please visit Friday's crime and courts comments section.
4 points by The Plain Dealer | Cuyahoga County Ohio Attack North Royalton Ohio Attack! Parma Ohio Broadview Heights Ohio Police officer Police
Charges accuse Parma police officer of lying to state gambling officials at Jack Casino
Michael Yonek has been indicted on charges of obstructing official business and identity fraud. PARMA, Ohio -- A Parma police officer was indicted on criminal charges after officials from the Ohio Casino Control Commission said he lied to agents. Michael Yonek, 42, was charged Thursday with obstructing official business and identity fraud, according to court documents.  The charges are related to an incident that happened Nov. 18, 2016 at Jack Casino in Cleveland, according to records.  Investigators said that Yonek gave agents a fake name for a woman that he said was his girlfriend after the woman won money at the casino. The indictment does not say why agents questioned Yonek and his girlfriend. The woman, whose name is included in court documents, has not been charged with a crime as of Friday.  Cleveland.com has requested a copy of Yonek's personnel file from Parma police.  Yonek is set to be arraigned in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Feb. 16. Parma police Capt. Kevin Riley confirmed Yonek is an officer with the department. He has been placed on unpaid administrative suspension, Riley said. If you'd like to comment on this story, visit Friday's crime and courts comments section.
15 points by The Plain Dealer | Fraud Jury Cuyahoga County Ohio Police Cuyahoga River Parma Ohio Identity theft Ohio
What are all these escape rooms popping up throughout Greater Cleveland? (photos and video)
A look at the escape rooms that have popped up throughout Greater Cleveland in the last year. Watch video CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Breaking into the replica bank vault inside the Trapped! Escape Room in Middleburg Heights is often maddeningly complex. It's difficult to describe the challenge for players without giving away solutions. Let's just say that the fake heist involves piecing together written clues, cracking computer passwords, solving word games and finding keys. The owners of Trapped! pride themselves on the difficulty of their games, which give players an hour to escape from a themed room by solving a series of puzzles. Trapped! is part of the booming escape-room phenomenon that reached Greater Cleveland last year. Greater Cleveland now has eight escape rooms: Trapped! (which also has a location in Cleveland Heights); Perplexity Games in Ohio City; The Ultimate Escape Challenge in Broadview Heights; Lockdown Cleveland on Broadview Road in Cleveland; Daring Escapes in Lakewood; Escape Hunt Cleveland on Miles Road in Cleveland; Escape in 60 on West 6th Street in Cleveland; and Escape Room Cleveland in North Olmsted. It's too early to tell if escape rooms are a lasting trend or a passing fad, but their appeal is undeniable. Solving a puzzle on the bank-vault game -- "Inside Job," as Trapped! calls it -- provides a visceral thrill akin to beating a particularly difficult level of your favorite video game. The first escape room games involved finding the keys and combinations to a series of locks by solving puzzles, but they've become more elaborate. Bank heists, Egyptian tombs and prison games have become common and props often play a large role. The "Inside Job" game at Trapped! requires players to use a fishing pole, and Lockdown Cleveland's Egyptian tomb game involves a wooden staff.  With the rooms proliferating throughout Greater Cleveland, we decided to take a closer look at these businesses, who owns them, who patronizes them, and what the future holds. What are escape rooms? An escape room game puts patrons in a confined space and gives them a set amount of time -- typically an hour -- to escape by solving a series of puzzles. The theme of each game varies, but they include mystery, horror and adventure. A game inside the Trapped! location in Cleveland Heights features an underground prison lined with (fake) dead bodies. It gives customers an hour to escape before an (imaginary) chainsaw-wielding serial killer returns. Perplexity Games in Ohio City includes a mystery-themed game and tells patrons they must find evidence of corruption in City Hall before everyone returns from their one-hour lunch break. Lockdown Cleveland has an Egyptian tomb game that tasks players with escaping from a series of chambers with the Book of Life. Where did they come from? Escape rooms began in the digital realm as online video games. "A lot of people have played them on their phones or their computers," said Perplexity Games owner Diana Molchan, who researched the history of escape rooms before opening one. "You're in a room you can't get out of and you have to click on things and find objects and solve little puzzles" to escape. "Then someone got the great idea to turn them into real-life games," Molchan said. That someone was SCRAP Entertainment, which opened the first escape room in Japan -- titled "The Real Escape Game" -- in 2007. The rooms multiplied across Europe and Asia from there, and SCRAP opened the first U.S. escape room in San Francisco in 2012. Trapped! was Greater Cleveland's first. It's flagship location in Cleveland Heights opened its doors last year. "They're all over the country now," said Trapped! co-owner Alan Applegate. Escaperoomdirectory.com lists more than 1,000 in the United States. The constantly updated list, however, is often incomplete. As of Thursday, it omitted Daring Escapes -- a zombie-themed escape room in Lakewood -- and Escape Hunt Cleveland. "As near as I can tell there are 1,500 in the United States," Molchan said. Many of them have popped up in the last two years in cities as big as New York and towns as small as Fredericktown, Ohio (population: 2,482). Molchan's family got the idea to open an escape room in Cleveland after her husband and son played an escape-room game on a trip to Houston and came home talking about how much fun it was. Applegate told a similar story. He played an escape room game in Toronto with his two teenage sons on a spring break trip. "I was so impressed with how much fun it was, and being a lifelong Clevelander, I knew it would be something fun to bring to Cleveland," he said. Applegate said his sons helped him design the games at their first location in Cleveland Heights. They now have a team of designers coming up with the games, fellow Trapped! co-owner Ryan Brown said. They also build their own props. Are they successful? Escape rooms in Greater Cleveland continue to expand. Trapped! recently cut the ribbon on its second location in Middleburg Heights and hopes to open a third location in Willoughby next year. Lockdown Cleveland has two games, and plans to open a third to accommodate more customers. Perplexity Games hopes to open its second room -- this one will be steam-punk themed and fits perfectly with the industrial feel of the building in which it is housed -- in the next few months. Evilusions, a Willoughby-based manufacturer that provides props to haunted houses, started supplying props to escape rooms a few years ago and has seen the business explode. "Two years ago there might have been a dozen," said Brian Warner, a designer for Evilusions. "Now there's more than 1,000 (in the United States). Every day someone is trying to open up another one. Some people have actually referred to it as a gold rush." Warner said part of the draw is what business owners see as a relatively low set-up cost. All one needs to start an escape room is space, props and a handful of employees. Brown and Applegate said they came up with the concept for their first game in Cleveland Heights in April 2015 and had the room open the following July. "We've opened another (game) every two to three months after that," Applegate said. Marketwatch.com described escape rooms as "unbelievably lucrative" in a July 2015 headline. Although the same article cautioned that it isn't yet clear if the business is sustainable over the long term. Warner added that anyone considering opening an escape room needs to understand that a lot of hard work goes into them. But local escape room owners said they're in it for the long haul. "I see this as a new national pastime," Trapped! co-owner Brown said. "10 years from now they'll be all over the country and we'll have a new industry." Who is playing them? Escape rooms are particularly popular as a corporate team-building exercise, which escape-room owners call their bread and butter. Beachwood-based accounting and consulting firm Zinner and Co. recently gave employees the chance to try an escape room on a corporate retreat. "We had a number of employees that talked about having done them with family and friends," Zinner and Co. managing partner Robin Baum said. "Team building gets a bad rap," she said, explaining that employees sometimes view such exercises as tedious and unnecessary. "But there was no feeling of that in this activity. It was really a joy to do." Zinner & Co holds a regular business retreat and asks employees to spend half the day in a business meeting and half the day on an activity. Perplexity Games accommodated them with meeting space for their work activities, and then let the employees try its game when the business portion of their day was finished. Many customers learn of the escape rooms through word of mouth, but an escape room-themed game show on the Science Channel -- entitled "Race to Escape" -- provides a potent advertisement. "We've watched the show quite a few times," Julie Cobb of Cleveland said after she and her two sons finished "Room 9," a haunted hotel room game at Lockdown Cleveland. Cobb and her friend Julie Lisseki, also of Cleveland, said they decided to try Lockdown because it is close to their church. Both women took their two sons with them when they played on a recent Friday. The Cobbs and the Lissekis managed to solve Room 9 -- which puts players in a haunted hotel room and requires them to find the keys and combinations to a series of locks -- with around 10 minutes to spare. They were rewarded by having their picture taken in front of the Lockdown logo. Like many Escape rooms, employees put pictures of the winners on Lockdown's Facebook page. Room 9 has a success rate of around 45 percent, Lockdown employees said. That figure is close to the industry average success rate of 41 percent. Greater Cleveland's escape rooms are: Trapped! 1796 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights. 216-309-1796. Lockdown Cleveland. 4860 Broadview Road, Cleveland. 216-465-1464 Perplexity Games. 2515 Jay Avenue, Cleveland. 216-273-8000 Escape in 60. 1266 W. 6th Street, Cleveland. 216-307-5444 Escape Room Cleveland. 23525 Lorain Road, North Olmsted. 440-360-7750 Escape Hunt Cleveland. 21639 Miles Road, Cleveland. 216-581-4868 Daring Escapes. 13000 Athens Avenue, Lakewood. 614-594-3376 Ultimate Escape Challenge. 3301 East Royalton Road, Broadview Heights. 216-336-6069
90 points by The Plain Dealer | Cuyahoga County Ohio Game Cleveland Cities in Ohio Puzzle Parma Ohio Games Room
Brunswick boy with special needs who went missing found in North Royalton
A Brunswick boy with special needs who briefly went missing Saturday afternoon was found safe in North Royalton, police said. BRUNSWICK, Ohio -- A Brunswick boy with special needs who briefly went missing Saturday afternoon was found safe in North Royalton, police said. The boy, whose first name is Ethan, was found about 3:30 p.m., a Brunswick police dispatcher said. He was missing for over an hour before he was found, Brunswick police Sgt. Mike Matheis said. North Royalton police said in a Facebook post that a resident spotted the boy on his bicycle. He rode from his house, near Brunswick High School, to "the center" of North Royalton, police said. That distance spans nearly 10 miles.   Ethan has autism and dwarfism, according to a newsnet5.com report. He was checked out by a rescue squad once he was returned home and determined to be OK, Matheis said.
191 points by The Plain Dealer | Sergeant High school North Royalton Ohio Special needs Dispatcher Saturday Special school Parma Ohio