Minerva man arrested for inducing panic at school

By Kimberly Lewis News Leader Editor Published:

There are extra patrols around Minerva Local Schools Tuesday, Jan. 29, after a Minerva man made comments Monday evening that were allegedly threatening.

Police Chief Robert First reassured parents that the patrols will continue all week.

First said Kevin Wingert, 51, of Minerva, was arrested Tuesday and is being housed in the Stark County Jail on charges of inducing panic, a second-degree felony, and criminal trespassing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Superintendent Joe Chaddock reported the high school had 20 percent of its students being called off Tuesday, with 10 percent of those citing safety. He noted that some of the students did come in later after the district used its call system to reassure parents of their students' safety.

According to First, Wingert had been attending basketball games at the high school, and had continued to "hang around" after the games. He had showed up at the high school on Jan. 17, claiming to be there for a basketball schedule. School officials had asked Wingert not to return to the school.

Chaddock noted Wingert had asked for tours of the building, which caused "red flags," and, since he had been charged with carrying a concealed weapon in Columbiana County in August, school officials banned him from school grounds.

First said Wingert had not been to the school until Monday, when he tried to gain access to the building while there was an after-school activity going on in the auxiliary gym. He did gain access into the auxiliary gym while the students were waiting to leave.

First explained the inducing panic charge stems from two students hearing Wingert's allegedly saying "High school is gone."

While Wingert said he was referring to not being allowed at the school, the students were concerned. Wingert also told authorities he was looking for a staff member.

Chaddock, who was at the gym when the incident occurred, stresses there were no direct threats to the schools and Wingert did not have any weapons with him. Chaddock said the district is working closely with the police department on the matter.

Both First and Chaddock noted some rumors on social media were exaggerated and that the safety of the students are paramount, They stressed that parents would have been notified had the threat been credible.

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