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Officer catches window breaker

| July 28, 2004 12:00 AM

A 19-year-old Libby man was arrested early Saturday morning on charges of felony criminal mischief by a city police officer who reported watching him throw a rock through a window at Libby Furniture and Appliance.

Michael James Wallace Jr., 19, was also charged with MIP, resisting arrest and escape. He was arrested by Libby police officer Matt White, who reported that he was in the department¹s office at 605 Mineral Ave. when he heard a crashing sound outside.

In his report, White said he went outside and saw a sign on the sidewalk at the corner of Sixth Street and Mineral Avenue that had been knocked over and apparently broken. He said he saw two people he recognized as Wallace and 18-year-old Josh Blythe walk across Mineral Avenue and disappear between First National Bank and Mark¹s Magic Carpet.

White said he walked across the street to the corner of the carpet shop, where he could hear Wallace and Blythe talking but could not make out what they were saying. As the voices got louder, White said he heard one say ³Just do it² and saw a rock fly across Mineral Avenue and land in front of the furniture store, where it broke into two pieces. White said he watched Wallace run across the street and pick up a piece of the rock and throw it through the window.

White said he ran into the street and told Wallace to stop, but Wallace ran. The policeman pursued Wallace on foot, yelling at him to stop. White said Wallace stopped at one point but pulled away and started running again when he grabbed his arm. Wallace stopped again on Fifth Street but refused to comply with orders to lie flat on his stomach until threatened with pepper spray, White reported.

During the chase, Blythe refused an order to stay put and ran off toward Mineral Avenue, White said.

An investigation revealed that in addition to the broken window, the rock had resulted in damage to a wall inside the store, a couch, an end table and a candle, White reported. The combined damage estimate is more than the $1,000 minimum leading to felony criminal mischief charges.

White reported that he talked to Blythe the next day, and Blythe said he watched Wallace throw the rock but didn¹t throw any rocks himself. Blythe said he didn¹t hear the order to stay where he was but wasn¹t concerned because he was drunk, White reported.