Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Tarbell, intruder scuffle

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A late-night scuffle Sunday ended with a Cincinnati councilman nursing a forehead wound and a half-naked suspect running down Broadway.

        A car-theft suspect picked the wrong yard as an escape route Sunday night, avoiding police but instead encountering Jim Tarbell, who wielded a broom that ended up being used against him.

        When a motion light switched on outside Mr. Tarbell's Pendleton house about 8:20 p.m., the councilman expected the culprit to be an opossum that had taken up residence in his yard.

        He opened the door to show the opossum to guests and saw a young man hiding.

        That's when the 58-year-old picked up a broom.

        “Well I used the Tarbell Death Grip, of course,” he said Monday.

        If he'd seen a weapon or thought he was outmatched, he said he would've simply backed away. But with his wife, daughter and only grandchild in the house, his instincts kicked in and the match was on.

        Mr. Tarbell jumped the man, ripping off his jacket first, then his shirt. The man hit back, wrestling the broom away from Mr. Tarbell and using it to hit the councilman on the forehead.

        The fight ended with Mr. Tarbell scratched on the head and arm. He showed off his wounds Monday during a break in council's Law and Public Safety Committee, of which he is a member.

        He referred to the infiltrator as a “200-pound opossum.” The man got away, but Cincinnati police think they know who he is and are looking for him.

        “You just can't allow people to come in your yard,” Mr. Tarbell said. “That's a violation of your space.”


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