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Man charged with aggravated assault for spraying gas company employees with bug spray

November 23, 2018

IDAHO FALLS — A man reportedly sprayed two Intermountain Gas employees in the face with bug spray while the employees were attempting to fix a gas leak near his property.

John D. Stuart, 46, of Idaho Falls, was charged with felony aggravated battery by use of poison or noxious or destructive substance for the incident, which reportedly occurred on Sept. 24.

According to an Idaho Falls Police Department report, Stuart’s wife reported on Sept. 17 a gas leak near her home on the 100 block of Seventh Street.

When two Intermountain Gas employees arrived, Stuart met them outside and refused to allow them on the property to investigate the leak, the police report said.

Idaho Falls Police officers were dispatched to the house and said they could smell gas. The officers told Stuart that, for safety reasons, they would allow the Intermountain Gas employees to investigate the leak.

The employees determined that a gas line next to the house had been tampered with and they decided the line should be cut.

“John was not happy with this and again told them to stay off his property,” the police report said.

Two Intermountain Gas employees arrived the following week to seal off the gas line. They worked on the line from the alley adjacent to Stuart’s house to avoid confrontation, the police report said.

While the gas employees were fixing the line, John Stuart reportedly sprayed Ortho Home Defense insect killer through openings in a fence where they were working. The spray made contact with their faces and they began coughing immediately. They went to the hospital and were released after receiving breathing and lung treatment. They have since returned to work, the police report said.

Ortho Home Defense contains Bifethrin, a hazardous chemical that can cause skin irritation and nose, throat and lung irritation when inhaled. The bug spray also contains Zeta-cypermetharin, a “moderately hazardous” chemical that can cause allergic skins reactions, the police report said. Exposure to the chemicals can cause nausea, vomiting and headaches.

Stuart told his wife that the gas employees were “the ‘man’ and he was tired of the man trying to hold him down,” the police report said. He reportedly told police that he was spraying in his backyard but had not sprayed anyone intentionally.

Stuart will have a pretrial conference on Jan. 7.

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