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Archive for Wednesday, February 11, 1998

DISPUTE OVER FENCE LEADS TO ARREST

February 11, 1998

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A Lawrence man was arrested after using a gun to show his objection to where city officials are placing a fence in his back yard.

Several construction workers, including a former Douglas County commissioner, wound up on the business end of a shotgun when a Lawrence man disagreed with placement of a fence they were erecting.

The Monday-morning incident forced the city to postpone erection of the fence in the HAND Addition, a 10.6 acre low-income housing development near 24th Street and Haskell Avenue.

Les Morse Jr., 37, was arrested for aggravated assault Monday but was released without being charged Tuesday. Prosecutors said that although Morse did have a shotgun in his arms when police arrived, he did not point the loaded gun at anyone or directly threaten anyone with it.

``He was arrested on aggravated assault, and the evidence did not bear out that charge,'' Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Knight said.

The incident began shortly after 9 a.m. Monday when employees for McElhaney Fence Builders prepared to dig holes for the housing development's privacy fence. Louie McElhaney, the company's owner, said he and other employees had already staked out the fenceline on Sunday, and he was in the earth-moving vehicle when Morse arrived.

``He didn't want the fence there,'' McElhaney said. ``We explained what the situation was and that the city had instructed us to do it there. He said `You're not going to put a fence up there; I'll get a gun and stop you.'

``I said, `Go get your gun,' and he did,'' said McElhaney, a former county commissioner. ``He never did point it straight at me, he kind of had it hanging on his arm. I didn't think he was dumb enough to get a gun, and when he did, I figured he might use it.''

Police arrived, and with their guns drawn, took the shotgun from Morse.

Morse, who is not opposed to a fence but the placement of the fence, said the workers were placing it about 10 feet away from his property line, effectively chopping off a third of his back yard. McElhaney said utility lines are placed directly under the property lines.

``I knew I was right in the first place,'' Morse said Tuesday. ``Hopefully we'll talk it out and keep it near the property line. They can set it on the other side, which is in the industrial area.''

Construction of the fence had been postponed because the area was wet and held water. It's the lack of drainage that causes Morse to want the additional 10 feet.

``I need that ground, because it's the only dry ground for my dog,'' he said. ``I don't think they have the right to fence my property off from me.''

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7127. His e-mail address is koger@ljworld.com.

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