ODOT's ''no-guns'' signs in PARKING LOT at rest stop where rape occurred

By Chad D. Baus

Last April, NewsNet5 reported a woman in her mid-20s was attacked in the bathroom at rest area off Interstate 77 in Summit County.

Last week, in a live-at-the-scene report from Summit Co., NBC 3 Cleveland revealed that a 22-year old Canton woman had been knocked to the ground, assaulted and robbed behind a rest stop building.

It is bad enough that Ohio law mandates that these rest stop buildings be posted as defensless victim zones. But as volunteers for Ohioans For Concealed Carry have been reporting for some time, the Ohio Department of Transportation has gone beyond just posting the rest stop buildings.

    ----- Original Message -----
    Sep 05 21:39:32 2004
    Subject: Ohio rest stops

    I just happened to pull into a rest stop on Interstate 77 between Ghent Road and Wheatly Road going towards Cleveland and I noticed a "No weapons" sign posted as you pull into the parking lot saying weapons were not allowed on premises.

    This rest stop was a scene of a rape just a few months earlier, I believe. I thought it was legal to have a concealed weapon on the grounds, just not in the buildings. I would have thought just the buildings would have been posted.

    Thanks -

    Anthony C
    Ravenna, Ohio

Another OFCC volunteer began chasing the rabbit that same week in September, after seeing two state highway garages posted in a similar fashion:

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Ron W."
    Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 5:17 PM

    I recently noticed that the Highway Garage on Route 29 and the Highway Depot on Route 119 in Mercer County now have "No Firearms" signs posted on the fence to the right of the front gate. I have a Ohio CHL and because of this I pay attention to anything related to the posting of these signs.

    I know that the HB12 law mandates the posting of all buildings under [state] control. But...where in the law does it permit [them] to post the mentioned signs on property? Granted it is fenced and gated, it is still open property, not a building as the law requires.

    Any help you can give me in understanding this would be appreciated.

    Thanks -

    Ron W.

Ron began attempting to find out who was responsible for the posting of these signs, which are the exact same sign posted on the Attorney General's website, which say no weapons "on premises". If posted at a parking lot entrance or fence, signs bearing this language would clearly imply to CHL-holders they are not allowed anywhere on the property, including outside the buildings.

He finally worked his way to a legal representative for the Ohio Department of Transportation. According to the emails and phone conversations Ron has had, ODOT seems to be taking the position that the signs are supposed to notify that firearms are not allowed in the buildings.

But as Ron quickly pointed out, "we are trained that we cannot pass this posted sign!", and the signs are posted at entrances to parking lots.

After a rapist attacked a woman in a rest stop bathroom stall in April, Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. George T. Maier stated "I can't recall where we've had anything of this nature happen at one of these facilities."

There have now been at least two such attacks in 2004 - one inside the building, and one outside.

Until the ban on self-defense in rest stop buildings is lifted, ODOT has a responsibility to post these signs in accordance with state law, and to avoid even the appearance of having disallowed state-licensed activity on public property.

Concerned Ohioans may contact ODOT as follows:

ODOT Online Feedback Form

Ohio Department of Transportation
Gordon Proctor, Director
1980 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43223
(614) 466-2335
[email protected]

Related Stories:
STATE-OWNED VICTIM ZONE (again): Woman assaulted, robbed at rest stop

Why does Ohio law prohibit self-defense at rest stops?

Woman Reports Rape At I-77 Rest Stop

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