A voicemail threat has triggered a security review at the building housing the Ottawa County Job and Family Service offices near Oak Harbor.
“The caller had said something about killing people at the site and burning down the building,” Sheriff Stephen Levorchick said.
A lockdown and evacuation occurred when the calls were first discovered March 26, JFS Director Stephanie Kowal said. She declined to discuss in detail the duration of the lockdown and evacuation. “We took the right protocol. We had lockdown and evacuation. But we still have to be able to conduct business,” Kowal said.
The director met with county commissioners Thursday to discuss the threat as well as security issues at the building. After the meeting, Kowal said she could not comment specifically on the conversation because the meeting was held in executive session and the threat case was still under investigation.
Commissioner Jim Sass on Friday confirmed the meeting was in executive session. Therefore, he said, his ability to comment was limited.
“There’s nothing real radical at this point but I can say the building security is being reviewed,” Sass said. “I don’t know if you can ever stop this kind of thing but we will do our best to prevent it.”
Levorchick said the threat was left on a telephone voicemail in a JFS office. The agency offices are located in the Ottawa County Resource Center at 8043 W. Ohio 163. The complex also houses other county offices including the Jobs Store and the Community Improvement Corporation and is located next to the Ottawa County Engineer’s Office garage and across the street from Riverview Healthcare Complex.
Sheriff’s deputies were alerted of the threat shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday.
According to the report by Deputy Kent Davis, the JFS office received two voicemails on March 25. The first came in at 12:36 p.m. It was a man who appeared to be frustrated with the voice automated system rather than being able to talk to a person. The call was not threatening, the deputy wrote. The caller, who possibly was in 40s or 50s with a possible southern accent, cussed then hung up.
The second call by the same man, the report said, came at 12:45 p.m. The caller threatened “I swear to God I’m gonna go there and kill everyone who works there and burn the ----------- to the ground.” He hung up immediately.
JFS staff listened to the voicemails but no one recognized the voice, Kent wrote.
Kowal contacted the telephone company in an attempt to trace the calls but ran into some difficulties, according to the report.
In the aftermath of the threat, Kent told Kowal that the JFS needed to review its security measures at the building. He noted the sheriff’s department had had several problems with the alarm system, including several instances in which employees had set off alarms on the weekend. The deputy also mentioned the unlocked lobby doors.
Kent then advised Kowal to talk to the commissioners as well as the Building and Grounds Supervisor Jim Adkins regarding updating safety measures.