Special to The Press
A fired worker who authorities said returned to an Oak Harbor area business with weapons pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges Friday in Ottawa County Municipal Court. An April 12 pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Kyle A. Kovac, 20, 508 Jackson St., Fremont.
A judge set bail at $29,030 after his 8:30 a.m. appearance and then deputies took him back to jail, a court employee said. The charges against Kovac include two counts of aggravated menacing, two counts of inducing panic, two counts of carrying a concealed weapon and one count of possession of criminal tools. The tools possession charge is a felony-5 designation and will be dealt with during a separate preliminary hearing, the court employee stated.
He was charged after staff at Northern Manufacturing, at 5225 W. Lakeshore Drive in The Lakewinds Industrial complex, alerted authorities that Kovac, who had been fired on Monday, was at the plant around noon Thursday, according to Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick.
Employees at that plant called a boss at the Northern Manufacturing plant located in Oak Harbor to tell him about Kovac’s presence there. That supervisor then called Oak Harbor police, who then radioed the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.
Witnesses said Kovac had a knife and was dressed in military fatigues, according to the incident report filed by Deputy Jayson Hale. Workers called police back when another employee noticed a handgun on the seat of Kovac’s vehicle. When Hale arrived, he saw a man standing next to an old red Camaro. And as he rounded the corner of the building in his cruiser, Hale said he saw Carroll Township Police Chief Jody Hatfield with his gun drawn standing over a man dressed in fatigues. The man was lying on the ground with his hands on his head. Hale got out of his car and drew his gun, allowing Hatfield to handcuff Kovac.
When Hale searched Kovac’s vehicle he found a large knife with a wooden handle hidden between the car seat and the center counsel, a Smith & Wesson special OPS knife, and a black HK Airsoft handgun with silencer on the front seat, a crow bar behind the front passenger seat and a large wooden stick behind the driver’s seat.
Hale noted in the report that the airgun had been altered so that the orange barrel designating a toy gun had been removed. Hale asked why Kovac had come to the plant. Kovac claimed he had wanted to return a gas can and talk to his ex-supervisor, but he wouldn’t say about what, the report showed. Kovac also told him he carried the stick because he lived in a bad neighborhood and that he had knives because he liked them.
Another deputy, Kevin Meek, interviewed Northern Manufacturing staff. He found that they had had problems with Kovac, who had been shuffled between the two plants, according to the report. When Kovac showed up late Monday, the report said, the plant management terminated his employment.
Kovac was taken to the Ottawa County Detention Facility for booking. There, as they inventoried Kovac’s personal property, a corrections deputy found a Batman movie trading card of actor Jack Nicholson as The Joker inside his wallet. Below the picture it read “Murder… Just for laughs.” When asked about it the card, Kovac commented “… this looks bad doesn’t it,” the report showed. The deputy replied yes. Then Kovac added it was just a collector’s item.
References to the Batman movie have been highly scrutinized since the Aurora, Colo. movie theater mass shooting on July 20, 2012. Twelve people were killed and 70 others injured at the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” In the aftermath, accused shooter James Holmes had told authorities he was “The Joker,” an infamous villain of the Batman series. He also dyed his hair a fiery orange color prior to the rampage. Holmes will begin his trial Feb. 14, 2014. Prosecutors announced April 1 they will seek the death penalty.