For most of Thursday, the state crime lab’s environmental enforcement unit was on Elderwood Avenue in East Cleveland, pulling items from a business known as Red Rock Services, LLC.
It is a demolition company, owned by George Michael Riley, Sr. who once employed people living nearby.
“He gave all the felons jobs when they couldn’t get jobs. Mike wasn’t no bad guy, Mike was a good guy,” one man said.
He said Mike hired him about 2 years ago and then stopped work a few months back and has not been seen since.
It would have been around the time the state, representing the EPA, filed a lawsuit against Riley and others who ran a controversial landfill about a mile away on Noble Road under the name “Arco.”
The state shut it down after what it feared were years of illegal toxic dumping. It then sued the owners over the multi-million-dollar cost of cleaning it up.
On Saturday, the site burst into blames.
“We believe that there is no imminent danger or public health threat to local residents,” said Terry Allen, Cuyahoga County Board of Health.
In a video posted to YouTube, Allen blamed a thermal reaction, urged the public to avoid the area, and promised to monitor the air.
East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King also promised to go after Arco.
“We’ll also keep working with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to pursue legal action against the perpetrators of this facility,” he said.
A number listed for Red Rock, LLC was no longer operating Thursday. No forwarding information was given.
A spokesperson for the state’s Attorney General’s Office would not clarify what was removed from the site. A backhoe could be seen digging in the dirt behind the property.