Scuffle at fire scene leads to jail time
A former Elliston firefighter has been sentenced to jail for assault and battery against a Shawsville rescue squad captain.
Joshua Levi Tickle, 23, of Shawsville was sentenced last week to a year in jail, with all but one month suspended in connection with a fight that broke out between three first responders at the scene of a fire in Alleghany Springs on Sept. 3, according to Montgomery County General District Court records.
The fight stemmed from a history of “bad blood” between Tickle and Shawsville Rescue Squad Captain John Webster Akers, defense attorney Ray Hartley said in a phone interview.
Tickle, who at the time was a volunteer with the Elliston Fire Department pleaded guilty Tuesday to assaulting Akers. The trouble apparently started when Akers and Tickle’s father, Larry Tickle, exchanged heated words after the three responded to the same structure fire. Larry Tickle was at the time also a volunteer with the Elliston Fire Department.
“Larry Tickle, who is the defendant’s father, and John Akers were arguing,” Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt wrote in an email. “The defendant, Joshua Tickle, struck Akers in the stomach with a Halligan tool.”
A Halligan tool is a heavy metal pry bar used by firefighters to gain entry to buildings.
Joshua Tickle was arrested on Sept. 4 and charged with felony assault and battery on a first responder, according to Pettitt.
With Akers’ agreement, the charge was reduced on Tuesday to misdemeanor assault and battery, Pettitt wrote.
Hartley said Joshua Tickle “knew he should have just backed away” from the confrontation. But Hartley said when Tickle saw Akers arguing with his father, “it upset him.”
Joshua Tickle was also sentenced to a year of supervised probation and was ordered to pay $507.50 in restitution for Akers’ medical expenses and to have no contact with Akers or his family, Pettitt wrote.
Neither Akers, nor Elliston Fire Chief Joe Rakes returned phone messages seeking comment on the case.
Montgomery County Emergency Services Coordinator Neal Turner said Joshua Tickle is no longer a member of the fire department. It was unclear Wednesday if Larry Tickle continues to serve on the Elliston squad.
Although each fire and rescue organization is self-governing with its own constitution, by-laws and policies, every volunteer responder in the county is expected to behave “in a responsible and professional manner at all times,” Turner said.
The confrontation between Tickle and Akers does not reflect any ongoing tensions between the Shawsville Rescue Squad and the Elliston Fire Department, Turner said.
“This was an isolated incident that occurred between two people that should never have happened on a fire ground,” he said.
The assault was “conduct very unbecoming” of a firefighter, he added.
Turner said there are 345 volunteer first responders in Montgomery County, all of whom work long hours to help their neighbors in times of trouble with little public attention or acknowledgement.
He stressed that one instance of bad behavior should not be held against all these volunteers.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1675
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