Well, it's happened again. Violence has broken the tranquil peace of the Metroparks Rocky River Reservation — and almost at the same spot. On July 23, a woman stopping to have a cigarette before going home from work was robbed at gunpoint by two men. It happened within a stone's throw of the spot where, on June 4, Carnell Sledge and Katherine Brown were gunned down by an unknown assailant within minutes of parking and walking to a bench overlooking the Rocky River.
The woman robbed two weeks ago told police the two men — one wearing gloves and the other a ski mask — came up to her from behind, patted her waist to see if she had any weapons and put a gun to her right temple. The man without the gun rummaged through the woman’s purse and stole $40, police reports say. The robbers then ran into the woods, according to police.
Hard to believe it could get worse, but it does for Metroparks visitors: The next morning, a 16-year-old boy who works at the park and his mother reported to police that they were driving about 5:40 a.m. inon Hogsback Lane when a fellow motorist waved at them. The mother, thinking they were asking for help, pulled up next to the car. A man in the back seat flashed what the woman believed was a handgun and, reacting quickly, she sped off.
We who live near the valley and enjoy its amenities didn't hear about this on July 23, when the robbery took place. Or on July 24, when the boy and his mother were scared by a potential threat. Heck no. We heard about it on Aug. 2, 10 DAYS after the first event. That is inexcusable. At West Life, we first encountered pushback from the Metroparks Police about two years ago, when we first requested weekly or even monthly police reports to include in our vital weekly police blotters. We hit a non-responsive wall. Fast forward to spring 2019. Metroparks, realizing what we are requesting is public record, asked us to file monthly Freedom of Information Act requests. We got our first reports — almost moldy with old age — in May. All innocuous stuff, with a couple of DUIs thrown in for good measure.
This latest news, quite frankly, makes us angry. Our police reporter reached out on multiple occasions the last two weeks asking Metroparks Police specifically if anything of importance happened in the Metroparks in July. It's what you do when there is an ongoing investigation and a suspect(s) is still at-large. He received little or no response. Apparently, the Metroparks Police didn't think an armed robbery near the same site as two killings was noteworthy.
As part of the thousands of visitors who love and enjoy the Metroparks, we are now officially scared. Is it safe? Apparently not. The violence is taking place in broad daylight in a well-traveled spots. While the killings could have been consigned to the category of a rare "random act" of violence — which somehow makes visitors feel relatively safe — the latest attack and the report of a gun-toting person in a car shatter that eggshell-thin sense of security.
It's time for the Metroparks police, and every other safety agency involved in investigating these attacks, to stop holding back information. The public needs to know. The public SHOULD know what is going on.
Ignorance in this case is not bliss. It's dangerous.