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Man arrested after allegedly attacking neighbor with an axe handle

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

James Gardner, 66, was arrested late Thursday evening after he called law enforcement during a dispute with the victim. According to the arrest report, Gardner was “extremely agitated” when law enforcement arrived over the victim’s friends parking their vehicles in the street between Gardner’s and the victim’s house. The incident happened in the 3800 block of SW 37th Street.

As the officer spoke to Gardner, Gardner became more upset and began to yell at the officer. Gardner then walked back to his house and yelled, “GPD doesn’t do anything! I’ll handle it by myself like they do on the east side.” Gardner then went into his house and refused to talk to any of the officers on scene.

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During the initial interaction, officers did not make contact with the victim. But about 10 minutes later, Gardner allegedly walked to the victim’s house, armed with an axe handle. He then allegedly used the axe handle to bang on the victim’s front door. The victim, not knowing that Gardner was armed with the axe handle, opened the front door, and Gardner allegedly struck the victim on his head, partially entering the victim’s residence. Gardner allegedly continued to strike the victim with the axe handle. The victim’s dog lunged at Gardner, and Gardner allegedly began striking the dog with the axe handle. The victim lunged at Gardner and pushed him out of the house, and then the victim’s dog began biting Gardner in the leg. Gardner allegedly continued to hit the dog until the victim got on top of him and began hitting him in the head with a closed fist.

Gardner allegedly drew a handgun from his waist band during the altercation, and both people fought over the handgun until a third person arrived and separated them.

When officers arrived again at the scene, they observed injuries to the victim that were consistent with the allegation that he had been attacked with an axe handle, which the victim compared to a bat. The victim believed that his ribs were broken, and he requested medical assistance.

Gardner sustained injuries that were consistent with being punched in the head. He also sustained bite wounds on his leg that were consistent with being bitten by a dog.

After he was read his Miranda rights, Gardner stated that he was not satisfied with the officer’s initial response to his call and decided he needed to go confront the victim. He said he brought the axe handle because he knew the victim had a dog, even though he said the dog has always been “nice” to him in the past. He originally stated that the dog immediately charged him when the victim opened the door, but later changed his story to say the victim charged him, then the dog bit him. He also said the victim “beat him up.”

Gardner said he was armed during the incident but only reached for his gun to make sure it didn’t fall out of his pants. He said he never pulled the gun out of his pants. He also said he brought the gun because he always carries a gun.

While at the hospital, Gardner said he was wrong for going to the victim’s house, that he acted out of anger, and that he regretted his actions.

The witness told officers that after he broke up the fight, he observed a gun in Gardner’s hand as he walked back towards his house, but he didn’t see when Gardner pulled the gun. He said Gardner held the gun at his side and did not pull it up or threaten anyone with it.

Officers observed multiple dents in the victim’s front door that were consistent with being struck with an axe handle. A holster was found in the grass outside the victim’s front door, which was “consistent with the DEF [Gardner] pulling his firearm from his pants during the fight.”

Gardner was charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and armed burglary of a dwelling or structure.