One city employee was arrested and another sent to a hospital with non life-threatening injuries after an on-duty argument turned violent, a Columbus Police Department press release said.
Two Columbus Public Works employees began arguing while working near Pickensville Road in South Columbus Wednesday afternoon, according to the release. The two worked on the same crew.
Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton said one employee “assaulted the other with a weapon,” but declined to say what weapon.
Neither Public Works Director Casey Bush nor Mayor Robert Smith returned calls from The Dispatch asking for comment on the incident. However, the press release said Smith confirmed the two employees are on administrative leave. The city council will also meet today to discuss the matter, along with a police personnel matter.
Councilmen Joseph Mickens, Charlie Box and Bill Gavin, of Wards 2, 3 and 5 respectively, all said they did not know much about the incident (Gavin is on vacation, but will call into the meeting), but confirmed it will be a topic of discussion at today’s special-call meeting.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re having the meeting, to find out,” said Mickens, who added the council plans to talk to other employees who witnessed the fight. “… All we know is that two guys were fighting, one ended up in the hospital and the other was arrested. That’s all I know right now.”
This is the second time in less than a month that council members have had to address fights between on-duty public works employees. The council fired two other employees during an executive session of its April 20 regular meeting.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, those employees had also been in a fight while working.
Both Box and Mickens said the two incidents so close together are cause for concern.
“Any time you have a fight amongst your people you’re concerned about it, so we’ve got to get to the bottom of what’s going on,” Box said. “I just don’t know really anything about it, other than they had a fight, and I’m sure we’ll be addressing it this morning.”
Mickens commended Smith and other city officials for working quickly to address the fight.
“That’s why this meeting was called so quick, to see if there is a pattern here,” he said. “If it is a pattern, then we hope we can see it. If we see it, then we’re definitely going to address it. That’s why we’re calling this meeting, to get to the bottom of what’s going on.”