New Castle News

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May 16, 2014

Coach charged with stabbing parent

SHARON — A high school assistant track coach was charged for allegedly stabbing the stepfather of a runner at practice this week.

George D. Thomas, 53, an assistant coach for the Sharon High School track and field team, argued with two of his runners Tuesday, according to Brookfield Police Chief Dan Faustino.

Because Sharon doesn’t have a regulation track, members of the boys and girls relay teams were preparing for this weekend’s district competition on the track at Brookfield High.

Thomas pulled a knife, threatened one of the students and shoved another, Faustino said.

The students called their families and, a short time later, Otis Hickson, 47, one student’s stepfather, arrived and confronted Thomas, according to police.

When officers arrived, Thomas was holding a knife and Hickson was bleeding from the chest and holding a brick in his hand, Faustino said.

Police disarmed both men and arrested Thomas.

Hickson was taken by ambulance to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, and was released a few hours later, Faustino said.

Thomas was taken to Trumbull County Jail in Warren, Ohio. He was to be arraigned on charges of felonious assault and taking a deadly weapon into a school safety zone. He also faces misdemeanor charges of assault and aggravated menacing in connection with the incident with the students, Faustino said.

In addition to seizing the knife as evidence, Brookfield police impounded a district truck the Sharon team had been using. During the melee between Thomas and Hickson, someone used a brick or bricks to smash the windshield of the pickup, Faustino said.

No Brookfield staffers or students were at the track at the time of the incident.

Sharon’s runners were under the supervision of Thomas and assistant coach Joe Moss, said Michael Calla, acting superintendent of the Sharon school district.

Calla said Thomas is on paid leave, pending further board action, adding he will be receiving a letter explaining his due process right to a hearing about his actions before school directors.

Calla wouldn’t say whether he would recommend that the board fire Thomas, but noted the district’s policies forbid weapons on school grounds or other places where students are present.

“We are conducting a full investigation at this point, meeting with all students and staff involved in the program or the incident,” Calla said. “We won’t make any determinations until our investigation is finished.”

Calla said he appreciates the fast response of Brookfield police and the fire department’s ambulance crew in supporting the Sharon students and adults in the incident.

“Mr. Thomas has been an assistant since 2009 and we have had no concerns or difficulties at all with him,” Calla said.

“This is unusual and disappointing but the district is taking this seriously because the safety of students is involved.”

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