Dispute causes shutdown in Onaway

ONAWAY – A 29-year-old man was arrested Tuesday after what is described as a domestic dispute escalated into search that resulted in school closures and parts of roadways blocked off.

At 1:23 a.m., the Presque Isle County Sheriff Department received a 911 call from a female reporting that her friend had been assaulted. The caller, who was not present when the assault took place, had reported hearing two shots fired over her cell phone, though officers could not confirm if any shots were fired.

“The emergency response team was called out … which is numerous police agencies including the Presque Isle County Sheriff, the Rogers City police, Otsego County, Emmet County, Alpena County and as far away as … Wexford County had a team coming up,” Sgt. John Kasuba said. “Any time that there is alcohol and or weapons involved in a domestic situation, we want to make sure to take care of everyone’s safety.”

After interviewing the friend and alleged victim, police remained outside the two-story house because the man remained inside, and it was not known if he was alone until officers entered the home and executed a search warrant.

Road blocks were erected on M-33 surrounding the house just south of the entrance to Shady Grove Village by Department of Public Works employees. The road between the intersection of M-68 and M-33, and W. 638 Hwy and M-33 was closed to stop traffic and the surrounding area was put on lockdown for safety. Onaway Area Community Schools was put on a delay, then eventually closed.

Rod Fullerton, Onaway superintendent, said he received a call from the sheriff department at around 4 a.m. The situation was two blocks away from the district’s main building, so Fullerton originally opted to delay classes by two hours, but later had to close the school altogether.

“They were hoping to get the situation contained, then they stayed in contact with us. We realized once we had to send our buses out on late status … we weren’t going to get the situation contained,” he said.

Nothing happened on the district’s campus, Fullerton said, and district officials have plans in place should a similar situation occur while classes are in session.

Like other schools in Presque Isle County, Onaway has a police officer present most days, Fullerton said.

Presque Isle Academy was notified around 7 a.m. and also closed for the day according to Program Coordinator Kristi Domrase.

“At no time were any students or citizens at risk,” Kasuba said. “We determined that the school needed to be contacted and initially was shut down for a two-hour delay. After a certain amount of time … the school decided to call it off for the entire day. There is a location just a short distance away from the suspect’s home where he was arrested at, where students are dropped up and picked off on a school bus.

“It was more for officer and public safety until we had the paperwork in hand giving us the authority to act Once officers approached and used loud speakers, the suspect eventually came out of the house without incident. He didn’t come out carrying any firearms or make any threats.”

The man was arrested for domestic violence and Kasuba said he expects there will be additional charges.

“Alcohol was a factor,” he said. “He was intoxicated. He was still in single digits.”

Kasuba said that according to the witness, there were firearms in the house, which is why the precautions were taken to call the ERT team and shut the school down.

“Long-guns and handguns were taken into custody,” Kasuba said. “More than one of each.”

Kasuba said early morning hours are a difficult time to get paperwork.

“The paperwork has to be obtained. It was all due process from the time it came in to the time we got all our ducks in a row,” he said. “To activate the ERT team we had to have an arrest warrant.”

There were children involved in the relationship, but Kasuba said they were not in the house during the time of the incident.

“The kids had been removed prior to the officers arrival,” he said. “There were no kids in the house. The house was cleared and it was determined he was the only one in the house at the time.

Kasuba said the different counties and different agencies involved with the ERT worked well together, which helped everything go according to planned.

Arraignment is expected to be today based on the paperwork that needs to be written and filed.

(News Staff Writer Jordan Travis contributed to this report.)

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.