Tenants of Troubled Cottage Grove Home Moving Wednesday Night
Sharvaise McClain agreed to leave 2037 Cottage Grove after an eviction hearing Tuesday morning
After two reports of gunshots fired outside of 2037 Cottage Grove Ave. and public outcry, the tenants of the home will move tonight.
Police have visited the home, declared to be a nuisance property by Cleveland Heights City Council Oct. 3, more than a dozen times since August for complaints ranging from loud parties to gunshots.
Landlords Sura and Haris Sevastopoulos and lessee Sharvaise McClain appeared in Cleveland Heights housing court Tuesday morning for an eviction hearing. The Sevastopouloses filed an eviction July 25 and the original hearing date was set for Aug. 24.
However, there was an error in the paperwork, said Rick Wagner, manager of housing programs, so that first request didn’t go through.
Magistrate Georgeann Schmidt, who presided over the hearing, asked the landlords and the tenant if they both agreed that the McClain family should move.
“We can’t wait to get them out,” Haris Sevastopoulos said. “The sooner the better.”
McClain, 36, said she has tried to access the house to get her clothes and furniture and get out, but the house was locked after the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court granted the city a temporary restraining order to keep the tenants out of the home. She also said she was recently arrested.
“It’s just a whole big mess that’s going on … I need to get my belongings. I’ve been trying to get in there,” McClain said.
Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson attended the meeting, and said that the police will monitor the move to “keep the peace,” but the landlords have to be present, too.
Sura Sevastopoulos said the house was covered in trash, and asked what the court could do.
Schmidt helped arrange the move, but said all other complaints would be heard at a second hearing at 2 p.m. Nov. 8.
McClain said she hasn’t paid her rent since August because she thought she was going to be evicted that month.
She said she can’t wait to move out of Cleveland Heights, because she feels her neighbors and the police are targeting her family.
McClain was arrested Oct. 5 and charged with child endangerment. Neighbors, the landlord and city officials said her kids were living there alone, and the landlord requested a welfare check on the home in September.
McClain said she was living there with four of her five children (the fifth lived elsewhere). The night of Oct. 1, when her 19-year-old son Darius was warned about “zero tolerance” for a party police heard he was throwing, she took her daughters out for a “girls’ night” and left Darius and her 14- and 16-year-old sons at home, she said.
Two police officers arrived in a car around 7:30 p.m. that night to monitor the home, said Robertson at the council meeting. Someone fired a gun outside of the home Sept. 7, and police had received several other complaints about the tenants.
They were pulled away on another call from the Forest Hills neighborhood at 9:37 p.m. Less than 20 minutes later, someone fired two shots, likely from a car, outside of the Yorkshire side of the home, which is connected to 2037 Cottage Grove.
According to police reports, two 9 MM casings were found. While investigating, police said they could hear people inside of the Cottage Grove home, and they knocked on the door to check on the welfare of the people inside.
People inside said they would not open the door without a warrant, and as police continued to investigate, they yelled “(expletive) the police.”
“Unknown juveniles also opened the door, shouted obscenities then slammed the door again. This behavior continued for approximately 30 minutes,” an officer wrote on the report. “At approximately (10:08 p.m.) I heard something come out of the trees. I looked down to find a caster from a bed was thrown from the third floor window and landed near me.”
The report indicates that police were able to get in the house sometime after 10:10 p.m. An officer found a 9 MM bullet “with similar markings to the casings found on the street."
Forty people were in the home when police entered, and Darius McClain and his younger brothers were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of official business. Police are still investigating, and they have not charged anyone for the shooting.
Police wrote on the report that Sharvaise McClain refused to pick up her younger boys, and they were sent to Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services.
McClain told her side of the story after the hearing.
"At one in the morning, Cleveland Heights police called me and they said, 'Ms. McClain, we have your son, again,' I said, 'Oh wow I’m no where in the area … I’m trying to get a ride,'" she said. "He said, 'We don’t have all day. If you’re not here in 30 minutes then we’re going to turn them over the state.' Basically they didn’t leave me no choice. I knew I wasn’t going to get from where I was to here within 30 minutes. I kept calling. We played phone tag up until 3 a.m."
She said she didn't have any problems before her neighbor LaToya Fields, who shares the duplex and lives on the 3076 Yorkshire side, moved in. Fields spoke at the Oct. 3 meeting about problems she's had with the McClain family.
"We moved to Cleveland Heights in November of last year. Everything was fine, and we had 80-year-old neighbors," she said. "(Fields) started making all types of claims."
Fields said at the meeting that one of Sharvaise McClain's sons stole from her and talked about other problems with the family.
McClain said she was splitting rent with her mother, who died March 28. She had planned to move out anyway once her lease was up.
"I agreed to move after the first court date (Aug. 24). I had a house that I was going to move in, it wasn’t in Cleveland Heights, but I had to give my information to the people who I was going to be renting from," she said. "She told me that I wans’t going to be able to move there because she talked to the landlord, and the landlord said I was a wonderful person but my kids were horrible.”
She said she pursued other homes, but no one would rent to her. She wants to get out because she believes her family is being blamed for crimes in the area.
“Anything like that happening in the area, they’re at my door, accusing my kids of it," she said. "The police know my kids and always arrest my kids."
On Sept. 8, police interviewed her son in connection with a robbery on Washington and Lee roads. According to police reports, a witness saw "three to four black males possibly wearing all black attire fleeing west bound on Washington, heading toward Cottage Grove." Offices searched the area and saw "four black males on the porch of 2037 Cottage Grove, all wearing black and possibly matching the description."
According to the report, the boys ran inside and hid inside a bathroom. Once officers got in, they questioned them. The victim did not identify them as suspects in the robbery.
On Sept. 30, Haris Sevastopoulos said that someone stole his electric stove and microwave from the basement, where he stores some of his property, and filed a report with police.
Police questioned Darius McClain about the suspected burglary.
"Did not see a stove. Don't know anything about it. No one broke in," he wrote.
At least three neighbors attended the eviction hearing on Tuesday.
"You know why I'm here? Because I love our neighborhood," said Mary Stevenson after the hearing, who said several neighbors have complained about the home.
Sharvaise McClain said people have called her and her family "animals," and she's ready to go.
“I guess they got their wish, so we’re gone."