POTENTIAL TRAGEDY was averted earlier this week in a Belmont County courtroom.
Hopefully, that near-miss is a wake-up call to Belmont County officials. Suspects entering our local courts are often times not high-caliber individuals and pose safety threats. They are under arrest for a reason.
With that being said, a defendant out on bond came to Eastern Division Court with deadly weapons. That is a recipe for disaster.
Fortunately, the situation was defused without incident. Eastern Court officials called the police and Bellaire and Shadyside officers responded.
Upon arrival, officers found the suspect in possession of a walking stick. It was a walking stick in name only as it was attached with a set of brass knuckles and a filet knife. The knife was 13 inches long.
We view that walking stick as a deadly weapon. He was able to bring it into his proceedings due to the lack of security personnel at the court and the lack of a metal detector onsite.
Police confiscated the weapons without incident, eliminating potential harm.
Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk said that he advised officials several years ago of safety concerns when they were first considering building the combined Northern and Eastern Division courts in Bellaire.
"I told them they would need security," said Kovalyk. "We brought this up at a commissioners' meeting. And now we are just fortunate that this particular incident was resolved peacefully."
Unfortunately, Kovalyk's apprehensions come to fruition. Fortunately, no injuries resulted.
This week's Eastern Court episode should serve as a blessing in disguise. We stress to the powers to be to fortify all of our county courts with sufficient law-enforcement personnel.