Washington state

Snowblower brawl ends with one man in jail, another in the hospital, Washington cops say

Spokane, Washington, police said a snow removal fight escalated when Mark Robertson, 66, pictured here, put a shovel in front of his snowblowing neighbor’s snowblower and tipped it over, and the neighbor tackled him.
Spokane, Washington, police said a snow removal fight escalated when Mark Robertson, 66, pictured here, put a shovel in front of his snowblowing neighbor’s snowblower and tipped it over, and the neighbor tackled him. Screen grab from KXLY

A man in eastern Washington says he’s afraid for his life after a neighbor sent him to the hospital in an attack over snow removal.

The fight erupted Feb. 15 when Mark Robertson, 66, went up to a neighbor who was blowing snow onto Robertson’s property in Spokane — just as the neighbor had done previously this winter, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Facebook post.

This time, Robertson responded by putting a shovel in the path of his neighbor Michael P. Jones’ snowblower, which tipped the machine over, the sheriff’s office said.

“I tried to stop him,” Robertson explained in an interview with KXLY outside his home. “That’s when he grabbed me, threw me to the ground and beat the hell out of me.”

Robertson’s wife witnessed the attack and called police, the TV station reports. An ambulance took Robertson to the hospital with head and rib injuries, the sheriff’s office said. He was released from the hospital with a broken facial bone and two fractured ribs, according to KXLY.

It snowed heavily in Spokane last week, the Spokesman-Review reports.

Deputies said they responded to the neighborhood in North Spokane around 5:30 p.m., where they found Jones at his home, arrested him and took him to the Spokane County Jail. Jones, 48, faces second-degree felony assault charges because of the “substantial bodily harm” Robertson was left with, deputies said.

The sheriff’s office said Jones tackled Robertson, punched his face and head and used “his weight to drop his knees onto the victim’s rib area while he was on the ground.”

Robertson said that when Jones had removed snow from their shared alleyway a few weeks ago, Robertson thanked Jones for doing the work — but asked Jones not to send snow flying onto his property, the sheriff’s office said.

Jones swore at Robertson in response, according to deputies.

“Every time it snowed, he just kept piling it in my yard,” Robertson told KXLY.

Jones’ version of events was different: He told deputies he’d been removing snow to help a disabled neighbor, and that he spotted Robertson putting the snow back onto the disabled neighbor’s property on Feb. 15 before the incident, according to the sheriff’s office.

Jones told deputies he fired up his snowblower to again remove the snow, but then Robertson “ripped the snow chute from his snow blower.”

Jones said he and Robertson “fell to the ground, but he wasn’t sure how that occurred. He also denied any assault took place,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies noted in the Facebook post that they noticed Jones’ snowblower chute on his workbench.

“I just want to live my life in peace — and this guy’s a bully,” Robertson told KXLY. “My life has changed. I’m pretty miserable right now, and I fear for my life.”

In this time lapse video from Pollock Pines, California, in the Lake Tahoe area, a snow blower clears the road to Big Hill lookout on January 23, 2017. The video, showing snow nearly to the top of the vehicle, was captured from a fire lookout came

Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.


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