Bull fight linked to pig threat

Last modified: 6/12/2012 12:00:00 AM
Before Brian Downs fired three shots into the ground Saturday night while arguing with his stepbrother over a loose bull, the stepbrother tackled him and threatened to shoot his pigs, family members said yesterday.

Downs, 28, of Emperor Drive, admitted he fired the shots as Michael Lassonde approached him that night at Lassonde's Bog Road farm, telling the police he was "in fear" after his stepbrother "was yelling at him that it was all his fault," according to a police affidavit.

The police, who charged Downs with criminal threatening and two counts of reckless conduct, said Downs and the 31-year-old Lassonde were arguing earlier that night over who was to blame for a bull getting loose on Bog Road, where a neighbor spotted him eating her tomato plants.

They got into a physical fight at Downs's trailer before fleeing toward the farm, and on the way, the police said Downs tried to push Lassonde's vehicle into traffic at the intersection of Fisherville and Bog roads.

Lassonde called the police after the two got to the farm, telling an officer that Downs fired a shotgun three times into the dirt near Lassonde's feet, according to a police affidavit. He also said Downs had thrown the first punch earlier.

Downs told the police he hadn't placed his hands on Lassonde. Yesterday, family members who attended Downs's arraignment in Concord's district court said Lassonde was to blame for what happened, calling him a "bully" with a quick temper.

"I think it's important the record be straight that Michael started this whole thing," Downs's younger brother, Sean Downs, said during the arraignment, which ended with Judge Gerard Boyle siding with the recommendation of prosecutors and setting Brian Downs's bail at $15,000 cash.

Sean Downs, who lives with his brother, said after the arraignment that the argument started when Brian Downs came home from work Saturday and told Lassonde the bull had escaped.

Lassonde, who had been at the trailer playing video games, started "yelling and screaming," Sean Downs said. He said the bull belongs to Lassonde, not his brother, and had previously escaped.

"The bull has been costly to contain," Sean Downs said. He didn't explain why Lassonde would have been angry at his brother but said he was jumping up and down on the floor, "throwing a temper tantrum."

The two went outside, where Lassonde tackled Brian Downs, Sean Downs said. He said he tried to pull Lassonde off his brother, who told Lassonde he was going to call the police.

But Lassonde said he would tell the police the brothers ganged up on him, Sean Downs said. He then threatened to kill Brian Downs's pigs, which were at the Bog Road farm, Sean Downs said.

"Michael told Brian, 'If you don't come and get your pigs, I'm going to get them shot,' " Sean Downs said.

That prompted his brother to drive after Lassonde as he left, Sean Downs said, leading to the incidents in the intersection and at the farm.

Lassonde didn't attend yesterday's arraignment. No one answered the door yesterday afternoon at his cabin, which sits in a clearing in a wooded area about a quarter mile down a dirt driveway. A bull, the only animal visible on the property, stood under a tree yesterday afternoon, tethered by a chain to a nearby trunk.

Several hours before the police went to that cabin Saturday night, they had responded to a report of a roaming bull on Bog Road. Donna White, who lives on the road, said she called the police after spotting a bull in her bushes.

White said she and her husband knew a large animal had been on the property before - something had broken branches in those same bushes - but thought it might have been a moose.

The bull "was very docile," White said. As he contented himself with eating her tomato plants, a couple who had seen him walking on Bog Road showed up with a dog leash, hoping to hook him onto it, White said.

But the bull started to eat the leash, and the neighbors had to pull several feet of it out of his mouth, White said.

Eventually, the police arrived, as did a farmer who came armed with a bucket of grain and a rope, White said. He managed to tie the bull to several trees, then loaded it into a trailer.

Before leaving, the farmer "yells, 'Tell Mike to come get his bull,' " said White, who said she doesn't know Lassonde. The farmer returned Sunday with the trailer, she said.

Since the charges Downs faces are felonies, no pleas were entered during yesterday's arraignment. A probable cause hearing was scheduled for June 19.

(Maddie Hanna can be reached at 369-3321 or mhanna@cmonitor.com.)




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