Friday, Sept 4–Suspect Trashes Store, Then Assaults Owner, Worker

OCEAN CITY – A Berlin man with a long history of run-ins with local law enforcement was arrested in Ocean City last weekend after a fight at a Boardwalk store during which he allegedly assaulted the owner and an employee in an incident that reportedly attracted hundreds of onlookers.

Last Friday, an OCPD officer was on uniformed foot patrol on the Boardwalk when he was flagged down by a private citizen about a fight in progress at the nearby Beach Styles store. When the officer arrived, he noticed roughly 100 people gathered outside the store straining to get a look at what was going on inside. When the officer made his way through the crowd, he found two people, including a store employee and a suspect, well known as Leroy Poole, 44, of Berlin, fighting on the floor of the store.

The officer was able to separate the combatants and attempted to take Poole into custody. The officer was attempting to handcuff Poole when he spun around and said, “who the [expletive deleted] are you?” When the officer identified himself, Poole allegedly said “So what” and attempted to run back toward the front of the store.

The officer was able to wrestle Poole to the floor and ordered him several times to give him his hands, but Poole refused and shouted, “I’m not going to be arrested.” At one point, Poole told the officer his Rolex watch was destroyed and was cutting into his left hand. Other officers arrived and were able to eventually subdue Poole, but it took two sets of handcuffs, violent person restraining devices and several bursts of pepper spray to get the suspect under control. By now, the crowd outside the store had grown to at least 200, according to police reports.

The initial officer met with the other combatant, identified as an employee of the store. The employee told police Poole and his female associate were looking at a rack of shirts in the front of the store when a female employee, later identified as the owner, asked the couple not to touch the shirts and that she would be right with them. Poole allegedly did not like the answer he heard from the owner and eventually threw a Styrofoam box containing a sandwich, French fries and ketchup at the storeowner, hitting her and damaging clothing and other goods behind the counter.

The male employee then interceded and urged Poole to get out of the store at least five times, according to police reports. When Poole refused to leave and allegedly went into an expletive-laced tirade, the male employee attempted to get him to physically leave. The male employee told police he took off his shirt and confronted Poole, who picked up the shirt and threw it back at the employee and threw a punch at him. According to the employee’s statement, Poole then grabbed him by the neck and attempted to punch him again.

The employee said he punched Poole a couple of times before the two combatants fell to the ground and continued fighting, which is when the first officer arrived. Evidence of the fight included clothes and clothes racks scattered all over the store, according to police reports.

Testimony taken from the storeowner indicated she told Poole she would be right with him when he abruptly went off on her and threw the box of food at her. Other witnesses on the scene told police the same story down to minute details about the sequence of events and what was said.

Poole was charged with two counts of assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of salvia.