Charges lodged in North Braddock arrest

A joint FBI and Allegheny County effort to address the epicenter of violence in troubled North Braddock has resulted in charges against a man from the borough.

Thomas Cole, 44, faces a Tuesday preliminary hearing on charges of drug possession with intent to deliver, possession of concealed firearms without a license and despite prior felonies, receiving stolen property and tampering with evidence.

Cole lives on the same block as Great Start Daycare, which has endured for 15 years despite public safety problems just outside of its doors, and which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profiled this week as part of its series Growing up through the Cracks.

According to a police criminal complaint filed by Allegheny County Police, the FBI had obtained a federal search warrant for Cole’s person.

At 8:05 p.m. on Tuesday, detectives on surveillance duty saw him entering a cell phone store on the 600 block of Jones Avenue. The store has been under investigation for at least six months, per the public comments of North Braddock Mayor Tom Whyel.

Police approached Cole, according to the complaint, and saw him “throw a black duffle bag and a smaller red bag that he was carrying into the door way” just two doors down from Great Start.

Officers then handcuffed Cole, and took a loaded Taurus PT809 handgun from his waistband, they wrote in the affidavit. They took $955 in cash from his pocket.

In the red bag, officers found “three large mason jars, all containing individually separated bags of marijuana,” plus more marijuana not in jars, according to the complaint.

In the black bag, officers wrote, was a loaded Bushmaster XM15, which is an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. That had been stolen, according to the complaint.

Bond was set at $50,000, according to online court dockets. Cole posted bond and was released.

Cole could not be immediately reached for comment, and there was no attorney listed for him in online court records. His criminal history includes a past guilty plea to drug possession of drugs with intent to deliver.

Nicole Glaze, owner of Great Start Daycare, said Friday that the violence-plagued block has been “very quiet. Very quiet. We are relieved. The parents are relieved. … We would like to thank everybody who has been involved in giving us our security back and our comfort back.”

She thanked law enforcement “for their diligence and for listening to us, and for caring. … We’re just glad that they did their job and they got their success. We’re definitely comfortable.

“I hope this is something that we can put behind us and the community can move forward from it.”

[This story was originally published by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.]