(WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE)
Caro police are investigating an incident involving a 77-year-old woman allegedly harassed at the Rite-Aid in Caro on Tuesday – a situation with connections to a proposed wind turbine development that spilled over into a verbal argument two days later in Ellington Township.
Caro Police Chief Brian Newcomb confirmed a complaint has been filed for the
alleged incident at Rite-Aid involving Betty Pattullo and Dave Vollmar. A report containing results of the investigation is expected to be forwarded to Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene, Newcomb said.
Awareness of the incident became public when Betty Pattullo’s husband, George Pattullo, said Vollmar owed his wife an apology after Thursday’s board meeting in Ellington Township. Pattullo was referring to a Tuesday incident that happened in Caro.
Vollmar objected and several smartphone video cameras captured Vollmar swearing and using obscene gestures following George Pattullo’s suggestion. Videos show Vollmar explaining what happened.
“She come to my pickup to ask me about my thing on the side of my pickup and I told her to get the (expletive) out of here, you’re a (expletive) (expletive) just like your husband,” Vollmar is shown saying on video.
Contact info for Vollmar could not be obtained by press time. Video shows Ellington Township Trustee Mike Wagner trying to get between Vollmar and George Pattullo and move Vollmar toward the exit.
Vollmar is shown then trying to continue to explain the situation to Wagner until Ellington Township planning commission member Eugene Davidson appears to continue trying move Vollmar toward the door.
After swearing and using obscene gestures several times, Vollmar ultimately leaves the township hall.
Vollmar has been vocal at public meetings in Almer and Ellington townships this year.
He owns property in Almer Township and has lease agreements with NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. through subsidiary companies as part of the $200 million project known as Tuscola III Wind Energy Center.
Almer and Ellington now have one-year moratoriums on wind turbine projects.
Vollmar has been vocal in public meetings against those who have consistently called for such moratoriums in light of what they have called “weak ordinances” in place.
Among those to call for beefed up ordinances have been Mike Pattullo (son of Betty Pattullo) and George Pattullo (Betty Pattullo’s husband).
Betty Pattullo, however, told The Advertiser she had no idea who Vollmar was when she went to Rite-Aid to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy on Tuesday.
She said she made what she thought was an innocent comment.
“I thought ‘Oh what a neat pickup” so I went over and said ‘Would you mind telling me where you go your detailing on your car? It’s beautiful,’” Betty Pattullo said. “And he exploded at me.”
Betty Pattullo said she didn’t want to repeat the series of vulgarities that were thrown her way, but said she was terrified.
“I got inside the store and I went back to the pharmacy and I was just shaking,” she said. “I didn’t even know who it was.
“I went to the pharmacy and said to the gal ‘You can’t believe what just happened to me,’” she said.
Shaken, Betty Pattullo said she hung out near the pharmacy for a while and slowly walked to the front of the Rite-Aid and peeked out to see if Vollmar was there still.
She said she didn’t see him so hustled to her car. She jotted down the license plate number of the vehicle that became part of the police report she filed later.
“Just talking about it now, my blood pressure’s going up,” Betty Pattullo told The Advertiser. “I’m 77 years old…I never in my life had someone speak to me that way. Not ever.”
Now, she said, she’s afraid to come to Caro and wonders if she should take additional measures, such as obtaining a concealed pistol license and a gun.
Mike Pattullo said he’s worried, too – and his biggest concern is about safety at public meetings, including those of the Ellington Township board of trustees where his wife, Carmell Pattullo, is the newly elected treasurer.
He said the video of what happened after Thursday’s meeting illustrates a need for action to protect citizens at public meetings before arguments go beyond being verbal.
Tuscola County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Reene said that in light of the incidents this week, he connected Friday with the Michigan State Police Caro Post commander and Glen Skrent, sheriff-elect, Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department.
“The mindset is that we’re on the same page,” Reene said. “If there is some level of concern, we will try to have an officer there.
“If anything happens at all during a meeting, we request people call 911 right away and have that addressed,” he said.
Reene added that the three plan to have further discussions “to brainstorm and see what else can be done.”
Although not common and subject to certain provisions, Reene said there can be situations where individuals are banned from attending meetings if they repeatedly “conduct themselves in a threatening manner” and “obviously, the greater good ultimately prevails.”
“People have to respect different views,” Reene said. “If we can bring courtesy and respect back to the process, then we can agree to disagree.
“But shouting matches and things of that sort accomplish nothing,” he said.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org