NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A Gail Drive homeowner is under investigation by police after telling Council members Monday night that he might wind up in jail “because I’ll shoot four of you.”
Randall Smith’s comments came during a public comment period in which a dozen or so residents expressed frustration over damage to their homes caused by flooding May 12 and 13.
Smith’s threatening language came when he was allowed to address Council a second time by Council President Kevin Corcoran, who ordered Smith to stop speaking after the remark.
“That’s it, you’re done,” Corcoran said. He then advised “the officer in the back may want to talk to you.”
A uniformed police officer and a police auxiliary were stationed at the rear of the Council chamber.
Corcoran, who verified the police inquiry into Smith’s remarks, said Tuesday that Smith called him to apologize.
“I accepted his apology, but told him that just wasn’t the time or place to make those kinds of comments,” Corcoran said. “I understood his frustration about not getting answers.”
“I was just stunned,” Corcoran said upon hearing Smith’s remark. “I don’t believe anything like that had ever happened before.”
Smith said Tuesday evening he was unaware that police were looking into his remarks.
“I should not have said what I said,” Smith said. “If the city wants to come after me, I’ll plead not guilty and fight it. I spent a year in Vietnam to say what I want to say. Maybe it was OK 40 years ago to have the right to speak my piece, and it isn’t now. I knew what I said would get everyone’s attention, and I guess it did.”
Smith made the remark as he talked about the odds of worse flooding from construction of the city’s new middle school and stadium near the high school, which is near the flood-prone Gail-Gina-Pitts neighborhood.
“The new school and stadium are going to dump more water into the sewer system,” Smith said.
However, Smith said most of his frustration had to do with a neighbor’s deteriorating vacant property and the lack of action by the city over the past 18 months to force the property owner to clean it.
“That’s what upset me the most,” Smith said.
Corcoran said he understood Smith’s frustration over the situation with his neighbor’s property. Smith did acknowledge Corcoran’s efforts to get city officials to come out on a previous occasion to examine the home.
Corcoran said he wasn’t planning to pursue the matter with regard to charges against Smith.
Smith was met at the rear door by the uniformed officer, who escorted him outside, Councilman Dennis Boose, D-2nd Ward, said.
Smith said he and the officer “had a few words with each other, and I left on my own accord.” Smith said he was not interrogated, and police had not contacted him since the incident.
Police officials could not be reached late Tuesday about the incident.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.