Police Beat: A Halloween chainsaw, a school-crossing fight, and a lurking stranger

Police Beat is compiled from reports to local law enforcement agencies.
Police Beat is compiled from reports to local law enforcement agencies.

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Oct. 31: The man brandished a chainsaw on Halloween night, but his name wasn’t Leatherface.

The dispatch call requested an agency assist. Washington State Patrol troopers had detained a suspicious man in the woods.

A sheriff’s deputy drove to the Purdy Park and Ride at 14402 Purdy Dr. N.W. and spoke to the troopers. They pointed toward the man, and said he emerged from the woods nearby with a chainsaw. The troopers said they hadn’t heard him using it.

The deputy walked into the woods and found a felled tree, surrounded by cut logs. He spotted another chainsaw, a jacket and a tool bag.

Asked about the scene, the man said he was alone, but later admitted his friend had been with him. The friend wasn’t around. The deputy looked around a little, but the woods were thick; he decided not to search any further and returned to question the man.

The man said he didn’t have permission to enter the property. He said he didn’t know it was illegal to cut up a downed tree and take the wood. He said he planned to heat his house with it.

Surveying the scene, the deputy noticed that some of the logs appeared to have been on the ground for some time. It wasn’t clear that the man had felled the tree, at least not clear enough to prove. Without witnesses, the circumstances were sketchy: not enough for an arrest.

The deputy told the man that the wood wasn’t free, and added that the man needed to clear out. The man gathered his belongings and left. The deputy filed a report for information purposes.

Oct. 29: If you’re looking for a quick way to start a fight, try driving too fast through a school zone while parents are picking up their kids.

The dispatch call reported a fight near Whitman Elementary School in Tacoma. Multiple 911 callers said two men were fighting, and one was armed with a hatchet.

Tacoma officers drove to 1120 S. 39th St. One followed a silver Pontiac sedan that appeared to be fleeing the scene. Another spoke to a man, 34, and his girlfriend, 30, who had been the first to call police.

The man said he was picking up the couple’s four children and crossing the street when an older SUV, driven by a woman who appeared to be in her 30s, ripped through the school zone and nearly hit them.

The man said he shouted at the driver (“Watch how you drive!”) and followed with a profane barrage. A school crossing guard, hearing the shouting, told the man to cool off.

The man returned to his car as a silver Pontiac pulled up alongside. The driver berated the man for shouting at the woman in the SUV.

The man told the driver to mind his business. The driver stepped out of the Pontiac. Soon, both men stood toe to toe. The Pontiac driver stepped to the trunk of his car, opened it, pulled out a hatchet and renewed the confrontation. The two men bumped chests.

“Wassup! Let’s do this!” the driver shouted.

The crossing guard, still watching the scene, stepped between the two men. She was smaller than both of them, but both backed away. The Pontiac driver returned to his car, still carrying the hatchet, and drove a little ways off to pick up two children, who turned out to be his nieces.

According to the crossing guard, he drove back toward the first man, leaned out the window and shouted, “I’m gonna kill you!”

Other witnesses gave similar versions of the story. Officers soon found the Pontiac driver, a 31-year-old man. They cuffed him and put him in a patrol car. The man claimed he was having a panic attack.

Another officer found the hatchet in the Pontiac. The man was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of intimidation with a weapon.

Oct. 27: The clerk at the Tacoma Nature Center sold a mug to a customer and gave her a receipt. The customer wrote something on it and handed it back.

“He is following me,” the words said.

The customer pointed toward a tall, thin man hovering nearby.

Soon, Tacoma officers drove to the park in the 1900 block of South Tyler Street, responding to a report of an unwanted person.

They spoke to the clerk, who described the lurking stranger. She’d seen him before. He’d been hanging around all day. He asked the clerk for the time. She said she didn’t know, walked away from him and started the work day.

The clerk said the man made her so uncomfortable that she called her husband, who stopped by and sat with her. The clerk said she alerted other employees to watch out.

Officers started hunting the man. As they searched, another woman said she’d seen him exposing himself in the park. The man had stared at her while he gratified himself.

Police soon tracked the man down. He wore a football jersey and carried a backpack. Officers found a hammer and wire cutters inside, and pegged them as burglary tools.

The man, 35, said his father was a mechanic. Officers told him he was under arrest. They added that he was banned from the park for a year. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of indecent exposure.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486 @seanrobinsonTNT