Tuesday March 26, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Police say Shannon Ridgeway did not make a good impression just a few days after starting work at the Putney Inn.

The 35-year-old Westminster man faces charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly hit one employee with a coffee mug and threatened another with what appeared to be a homemade knife Sunday morning.

At one point, police said, after reappearing at the inn with knife in hand, Ridgeway declared that "I better get my . . . paycheck."

Ridgeway was arraigned Monday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division and was released on several conditions. Those include having no contact with the alleged victims and staying away from the Putney Inn.

Senior Trooper Kurt Wagenbach said he was summoned around 10:30 a.m. Sunday to the Putney Inn, 57 Putney Landing Road, to investigate allegations of an assault.

An employee reported that he had been assigned to train Ridgeway -- who police said took at job at the inn on March 20 -- as a cook in the kitchen.

At some point, after Ridgeway walked away and the employee told him, "I can't train you from over there," Ridgeway began to call the employee names, police said.

Ridgeway "came right up to me and started bouncing off my chest and yelling at me," the victim told police, according to a court affidavit.

When Ridgeway demanded that the two go outside to fight, the victim "said that he was not going to go outside because he was at work, and that is not how you are supposed to conduct yourself at work," Wagenbach wrote in the affidavit.

Eventually, the two exited the restaurant and exchanged words, police said. When the victim turned to go back into the inn, Ridgeway threw a travel mug and hit him in the back, court documents say.

A supervisor spoke to Ridgeway on the phone and asked him to return on Monday so that they could discuss the incident. But police say Ridgeway returned to the inn's kitchen around 10 a.m. and was "all fired up" as he shouted at the supervisor, who had arrived at the inn to assist.

At that point, the supervisor noticed that Ridgeway had a knife in his hand. It was described as having a rusty blade and a wood handle; the supervisor told police it looked "similar to a shiv ‘like you see in the movies'" or like a "makeshift pocket knife."

Police say Ridgeway refused to leave and allegedly knocked the supervisor's cell phone out of his hand when he mentioned calling police.

As the supervisor tried to escort Ridgeway toward the door, the suspect turned "in a sudden and threatening manner and held the knife up in an overhead fighting or stabbing manner" while shouting "You want to go?," according to court documents.

He then departed.

Police, after interviewing the victims, went to Ridgeway's home. At first, Ridgeway said he had been involved only in a verbal altercation and complained that he "was not being treated well or treated fairly by the staff."

Ridgeway claimed he was defending himself, but he admitted throwing the coffee mug, police said. He denied having a knife.

"However, the defendant only told a partial version of the truth," Wagenbach wrote in court papers. "When I asked the defendant for more details and made it clear to him that I knew what had happened and that I knew he was not being completely honest with me, the defendant gradually added more detail."

Police say they also smelled marijuana; Ridgeway allegedly acknowledged smoking marijuana after leaving the Putney Inn "in order for him to calm down."

When police told Ridgeway he was under arrest, he briefly resisted, police said. He was quickly handcuffed.

In addition to the felony assault charge, Ridgeway is charged with interference with access to emergency services and disorderly conduct. Both are misdemeanors.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.