Falsified police report leads to arrest, suspension

By Dylan Chesser

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012

Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012

Cooley

Cooley

On Feb. 21, two ETSU basketball players in Building O of Buc Ridge, one tenant and another visiting, activated their panic buttons after being robbed at gunpoint.

In the aftermath of the burglary, another basketball player has been charged with providing false reports to police and has been arraigned and released on his own recognizance.

According to the police report, Adam Sollazzo, 21, and John Ward, 22, stated that three black males wearing dark clothing entered the apartment in Building O, two of whom brandished pistols, and bound, gagged and robbed them.

The perpetrators used a student ID card that had been left in the mailbox outside to gain access into the apartment.

The ID belonged to Sheldon Cooley, 22, who stated that he placed the ID in the mailbox so that his roommate could get into the apartment after locking himself out.

"We take the safety of our students and employees seriously," said Joe Smith, director of media relations. "Buc Ridge, like homes and many apartment complexes, has an exterior entrance into the residence. A swipe card is required to obtain access, and that is why it is important that these cards be kept in a safe place at all times."

Smith stated that a GoldAlert was issued telling members of the ETSU community to exercise safety precautions after news of the aggravated burglary arose.

"In light of the incident that took place earlier this week, we have increased security on campus," Smith said.

According to the police report, the victims and Cooley stated that several items of personal property had been stolen, including cell phones, credit and debit cards, a laptop and several student and state-issued IDs.

Cooley reported that $1,300 that he claimed to have obtained earlier that day was stolen.

An investigation by ETSU Public Safety revealed that Cooley was not in possession of the amount in question and that his initial claim of the $1,300 being stolen from him was false.

Cooley was arrested by ETSU Public Safety on Feb. 23 on the charge of providing false reports.

He was arraigned on Feb. 24 and released on his own recognizance.

This was not the first time that this apartment in Building O was targeted.

The apartment in question was also robbed in November 2011, while its tenants and the rest of the basketball team were out of town at an away game.

Ward and Cooley returned to find their bedroom doors kicked in and rooms ransacked. Though both bedrooms were ransacked, Ward was the only tenant to report anything missing.

Ward stated that two NCAA championship rings that were worth $450, a Bulova watch that was valued at $200, and 15 Atlanta Braves baseballs that were worth $225 were missing.

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Mullins said that the athletic department values the safety and well-being of its student-athletes and all students on the ETSU campus.

"After a difficult and traumatic experience like the one these young men have been through, we are providing support for them," Mullins said. 

"We caution all our student-athletes to take precautions for their own safety and will offer assistance when needed."

Cooley's academic and athletic future with the university remains unclear.

"He is still a student and will face some disciplinary action from Student Affairs," Mullins said.

"He is suspended from the team indefinitely pending further investigation by campus security and the athletic department."

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