Elderly block watch patrollers assaulted



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Posted on June 28, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 28 at 5:46 PM

ARLINGTON, Wash. - Two elderly men are recovering after being attacked while on Citizen Block Watch patrol in their Arlington neighborhood.

Arlington Police says Devin Wintch, 40, ran out of a home on Eaglefield Drive after one of the volunteers shined a flashlight near a park while canvassing the area for suspicious activity. That's when police say Wintch approached the elderly man, ripped the flashlight from his hands and hit him in the face with it.

John Branthoover, 68, is the Block Watch captain. He approached to defuse the situation, but was punched in the jaw.

"We have no idea what set him off," says Branthoover. "He was crazed."

When officers arrived on scene, Wintch was still aggressive towards the elderly men. Branthoover held the man at gunpoint with .38 caliber pistol after calling police. He was carrying the gun legally.

The citizen patrol is not affiliated with Arlington Police. but they work hand-in-hand to prevent crime in the neighborhoods. Arlington Police block watch liaison Commander Brian DeWitt says the incident is not prompting police to encourage changes to the block watch programs.

"We depend on these citizen patrols to be our eyes and ears in the community," says Dewitt. "We never want to see anyone get assaulted."

Wintch is being held in the Snohomish County Jail on $25,000 bond for robbery and assault.