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Westlake businessman killed by deputy told cops he was being chased by three witches

By Adam Ferrise and Justin Madden - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS) • May 27, 2018 at 8:39 AM

CLEVELAND — Brett Luengo ran a successful construction management business that oversaw the construction of Crocker Park parking garages and told others that he loved being a newly married man. He planted flowers in Westlake Community garden just last week.

Dispatch logs obtained by cleveland.com from a call he made to Westlake police in the minutes before his death illustrate a far more troubled man who claimed that he was a drug dealer and that he was being chased by three witches who were trying to kill him.

Those who knew the 33-year-old Westlake High School graduate were left stunned and searching for answers on Thursday after Luengo attacked several Good Samaritans along Interstate 90 before a Cuyahoga County Sheriff's deputy fired a fatal gunshot into his chest.

Luengo called Westlake police prior to the attacks and made the strange claims to dispatchers, according to a Westlake police report.

He also told the dispatchers that he was gay and that he was going to commit suicide. His parents later told police that Luengo has been suicidal in the past and was possibly homicidal, the report says. Westlake police later updated the report to say that Luengo "is suicidal and possibly homicidal."

"It just doesn't make sense," said Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough, who performed Luengo's marriage ceremony on March 4, 2017. "I was shocked. I don't quite understand what happened here. I saw him about three weeks ago and he was so happy about getting married. He said things were great and he was very happy with his new bride."

Luengo grew up in Westlake, moving there with his family when he was about 6 years old. His family hosted dinners for neighbors on their quiet street lined with manicured lawns.

Luengo's parent's next-door neighbor Pers Nielsen said they never saw any issues with Luengo and offered that he never saw him intoxicated or under the influence in any way.

"He was always a very nice young man," Birthe Nielsen said. "He was always very polite, very helpful."

His family, in an emailed statement, described Luengo as highly-intelligent and a loving husband and son.

He starred as a tennis player at the high school and later graduated from Emory College in Atlanta, where he majored in economics and minored in Latin American Studies, according to a blurb on Emory's website.

He eventually went to work at his father's company, ConstructAbility, a construction management company that specializes in building parking garages. He first worked on the ground at the construction sites and later as the company's chief executive officer and vice president, according to his biography on the company website.

The company handles clients as far away as Chile, according to the website. Luengo personally oversaw the Crocker Park construction project, Clough said.

The company was hailed for its focus on hiring diverse workers for its projects. The Northeast Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gave the company its Community Pillar award in December. Luengo accepted on behalf of the company.

Luengo also focused on community outreach, working with the Lakewood Jewish Alliance. He also served on the Cleveland Orchestra's Community Relations Committee.

Luengo founded the Westlake Sister City program that paired the west side suburb with Tralee, Ireland. He, Clough and Westlake City Council President Michael Killeen all flew to the city to meet their counterparts in 2009.

He also oversaw the Ohio Rose festival in Westlake that sends a young woman from Ohio with Irish heritage to the Rose of Tralee International in Ireland. He moved into his $350,000, 3,628 square-foot home in 2016 and married last year.

"He was probably one of the brightest people I've ever met," Killeen said. "He was extremely intelligent. He enjoyed pushing himself to learn other things. He wanted to be the best at everything he did, in a good way."

Family and friends alike are wondering exactly what led up to Thursday's attacks on the side of the highway.

As Westlake police went to his parents' house, they also tried to locate him by tracking his cellphone. They also notified his wife, a volunteer at the Cleveland Clinic. Police notified businesses on West 117th Street as his car drove east on I-90. Lakewood police and Cleveland's First District officers were also told to look for Luengo.

Luengo, who has no known prior criminal history other than a 2016 misdemeanor conviction for failing to comply with a police officer, crashed his car near the West Boulevard exit and two people pulled off on the side of the road to help him, according to two witnesses.

He grabbed a woman by the throat and pulled her out of her car. The man grabbed a wrench from his work truck and hit Luengo on the head as Luengo tried to attack him, causing a gash. A third man stopped when he saw Luengo bleeding on the side of the road.

Luengo also tried to attack him, the witnesses said. Luengo walked up the side of the highway and tried to grab two kids in the backseat of another woman's car, getting blood on the kids, the witnesses said. As he attacked the people on the side of the highway, he shouted that he was high on PCP and that he molested children, the witnesses said.

It was about then when Cuyahoga County Sheriff Sgt. Kevin Campbell arrived. Sheriff Clifford Pinkney said Campbell ordered Luengo to surrender several times. The two witnesses said Luengo told Campbell to shoot him.

He charged at Campbell, who used his stun gun several times to no avail, according to the witnesses and Pinkney. A video provided to cleveland.com shows Luengo rip the stun gun prongs from his chest, get up off the ground and charge at Campbell.

Luengo threw a punch at Campbell as Campbell backed up around his car on the traffic side of the highway. Luengo charged at Campbell one last time, reaching for his gun, according to the video and witnesses.

Campbell shot Luengo once in the chest. After the shooting, Luengo sat up and tried to stand. Campbell kicked him back down onto his back. Luengo later died at MetroHealth.

Cleveland police's use-of-deadly-force detectives are investigating the shooting. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish on Friday said called Campbell's handling of the incident "appropriate." Luengo's family thanked the officers and paramedics that responded to the shooting.

"The behavior observed on that fateful evening was completely out of character for Brett, and the family has as many questions as everyone else," the family's statement said. "This incident by no means defines the way in which Brett lived his life, which has sadly come to an untimely end."


Fatal shooting of Westlake businessman first by Cuyahoga County sheriff's deputy since 2014

The fatal shooting of a 33-year-old Westlake man on Interstate 90 Thursday evening is the first shooting involving a Cuyahoga County Sheriff's deputy in four years, records show.

Brett Luengo, 33, of Westlake was shot in the chest by Sgt. Kevin Campbell after attacking the deputy about 8 p.m. Thursday. Campbell is assigned to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and was working an overtime traffic enforcement detail before his encounter with Luengo.

Officials have provided few details about what was the first fatal encounter between a civilian and deputy in four years, according to cleveland.com archives and a Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The March 27, 2014 incident involved six sheriff's deputies who were serving a warrant for Israel Rondon who was wanted for a probation violation.

Rondon's probation stemmed from September 2012 criminal conviction where he pleaded no-contest to charges of attacking a police officer and carrying a concealed weapon, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records.

Rondon had a brush with Middleburg Heights police Feb. 8, 2012 behind the Korean Baptist Church on Fry Road, according to a police report. Lt. Kevin Hoover saw him emerge from a wooded area behind the building and approached him.

Rondon told Hoover people were shooting deer in the woods earlier, and that he was looking for the carcasses, the report said. As Hoover got in his patrol car to leave, he ran Rondon's name, which he got from Rondon's passport, and learned that he had an active warrant for a concealed carry offense out of Summit County, the report said.

When Hoover returned to arrest Rondon, he resisted and hit Hoover with an open hand on the chest. When Hoover, who was much larger than Rondon, cuffed him, he found two small hunting knives on Rondon, officials said at the time.

Rondon described himself as a freeman, believing each person is sovereign and laws only apply to people who consent to them.

A judge sentenced Rondon to two years probation. Five months later, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Cuyahoga County sheriff's deputies served the warrant at Shelton Road home in Middleburg Heights.

Deputy Jeffrey Sikora radioed fellow deputies to tell them that Rondon had a gun and that he refused to drop it. Rondon fired a rifle at the deputies.

Sikora and fellow deputy Matthew Massey returned fire and struck Rondon in the head, killing him.

The officers were not hurt in that shooting. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office cleared the deputies of the shooting, saying that it was a justified use of deadly force.


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