ORANGE VILLAGE, Ohio (WJW)- Friends of Sgt. Mike Debeljak are still shaken by the attack that put him in the hospital with multiple cuts across his body, but they’re relieved he’s alive.
“When something like that happens, you just feel completely helpless,” said Nicole Sommers.
Debeljak was one of the Orange Village officers who responded to the Extended Stay America Hotel on Orange Place Wednesday afternoon.
Chief Chris Kostura said management wanted 26-year-old Cameron Howard removed from a room.
“We go on these types of calls with all of our hotels frequently, this is not an unusual call, and all the time the people cooperate,” Kostura said.
As officers were telling Howard he would have to leave the hotel property, the chief said he started to violently attack Debeljak with a knife.
“Sgt. Debeljak received multiple lacerations and a skull fracture. He has staples in his neck and his head and received numerous stitches in his hand,” said Kostura.
Sommers and Courtney McIvor, who are law enforcement spouses, were ready to help Mike and his wife Jessica through the tough journey ahead.
“We always try to have each other’s back because you never know when it’s going to happen and you pray every day when your spouse leaves for work that you’re never going to get that knock on the door or that phone call and when you do, that’s when you’ve got to rally,” said McIvor.
They rallied an online community of support through a GoFundMe page, raising more than three times the goal of $10,000 to help with medical bills and lost wages.
“In 24 hours, we raised almost $25,000 and we were just beside ourselves. We couldn’t even believe the support. Jessica and Mike and just completely overwhelmed with the response,” said Sommers.
Debeljak is now back home physically recovering.
“His spirits are good. He’s not going to be coming back any time soon due to the nature of his injuries but he’s got a good outlook and he wants to come back to work. And I told him it’s time to heal,” Kostura said.
And those closest to him say the prayers and well wishes will go a long way to helping him heal emotionally.
“It’s safe to speak for most police families when I say thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for the support,” Sommers said.
Howard is in the Cuyahoga County Jail and has been charged with attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault.
Any money the family doesn’t need will be donated to charities that help the families of fallen or injured officers.
The women will be closing the GoFundMe tomorrow evening. You can find the GoFundMe here.