Two arrested during Columbia brawl

April 09, 2003 12:00 am

By AMY LINDBLOM

A public brawl erupted last night as a crowd of people watching a man take a chain saw to the Columbia Frosty sign got out of control.

Two men were arrested near the Parrotts Ferry Road eatery on suspicion of public drunkenness and resisting arrest.

Eight Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department patrolmen were needed to quell the 10 p.m. outbreak among two dozen people who were acting in a "frenzy," according to a report by Sgt. Joe Romeo.

The property owner, Richard LaJeunesse, was cited on a charge of disturbing the peace.

This morning, his wife said she and her husband had been ordered to cut the sign down by the Tuolumne County Community Development Department.

"We had too many signs on the property and we agreed to take one of them down," said Faith LaJeunesse. "We had our reasons for doing it at 10 last night.

"We just didn't have time to do it during the day, and we were about to get fined."

She would not comment on last night's melee or why so many people wanted to watch the sign come down.

The LaJeunesses lease the Frosty building to Lorrain Elliott, who was not there last night. What caused the brawl is unclear.

Romeo was called to the Frosty after a woman getting her mail from the nearby Columbia Post Office called 911. She said a large crowd had gathered at the Broadway Street business, and someone had a chain saw.

Romeo arrived to find a man cutting down one of the Frosty sign's two 12-inch posts, with a crowd yelling and cheering him on. Romeo asked the man to stop, but he refused and the crowd then pushed the sign to the ground, hitting Romeo's arm.

The crowd blocked lawmen as the man with the saw fled and he was not found last night, Romeo reported, and Richard LaJeunesse refused to give the man's name to officers.

Seven other deputies arrived to help Romeo.

Officers arrested two men for screaming at them and threatening them. Both men were placed in leg chains to control them. Romeo said they smelled of alcohol.