Bomb threat suspect caught in cab, driver alerts police

Louis Koleszar. Photo courtesy of the Portage County Sheriffs Office.

Louis Koleszar. Photo courtesy of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.

Katy Coduto

When 58-year-old Colorado resident Louis Koleszar got in Misty Smead’s cab on June 4 and allegedly told her he wanted to blow up Kent State, Smead did the only thing she could: She stayed calm and alerted her dispatcher.

“I didn’t get scared, I got aware,” Smead said. “He said, ‘We are on our way to bomb Kent State University.’ That’s when I started taping him.”

Smead said that Koleszar first appeared drunk, but it wasn’t until he was in the cab that she thought he might be crazy.

“We got going, and he started rambling,” she said. “He said something about 9/11, and that he’s glad the Twin Towers came down, and then he started talking about nuclear bombs.”

It was after Koleszar mentioned nuclear bombs that he allegedly told Smead they were going to blow up Kent State. Smead said it was the safety of Kent State students that worried her most.

“I just kept thinking that I needed to get a hold of the authorities,” Smead said. “I was so concerned about the students and their welfare. I just kept thinking about all of those young lives.”

Even when Koleszar allegedly grabbed her around the neck, the veteran cab driver remained composed.

“For some reason, I was never scared for me,” she said. “You would think that I would get scared, but it was weird how the calmness came over.”

Smead told Koleszar she would take him to the Cracker Barrel near Ravenna before they went anywhere else. She calmed him down by telling him he could smoke outside of the restaurant. As Smead was relaxing the passenger Koleszar, her dispatcher Jimmy Williams was listening in.

“We have a code word, and I said it to my dispatcher, and then the police were able to get a hold of me,” Smead said. Police intercepted Smead and Koleszar at the Cracker Barrel, where Koleszar was arrested.

Koleszar was arraigned June 5 in Ravenna, charged with making false alarms, which is a third-degree felony because it threatened the use of a weapon of mass destruction. The felony carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Koleszar’s bond was a percentage bond set at 10 percent of $75,000. He was further ordered to stay away from any Kent State property, should he post bond.

The preliminary hearing for Koleszar will be 9:45 a.m. Friday at the Portage County Municipal Courthouse. He will be given a court-appointed lawyer, and was evaluated in the Portage County jail.

As for Smead, she said she was just doing her job.

“I did just what I think anyone else would do,” Smead said. “I don’t want to be seen as a hero or anything.”

Smead also said that she could not have done the work without help from the Sheriff’s Department and the lieutenants.

“I would really like to thank the Sheriff’s Department and everybody,” she said. “They were just marvelous with how quick they were and how they handled the situation.”

As for Smead, she believes that there may have been a third passenger in the cab.

“I definitely have a guardian angel that is working overtime with me,” she said.

Contact Katy Coduto at [email protected].