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Man threatened dog mauling, police say

Police say a dispute about passing on a road led the man to claim he would turn loose his two pit bullterriers.

By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 9, 2001


RIDGE MANOR -- A case of road rage got more than a little hairy when one motorist was accused of threatening to kill another with his two pit bullterriers.

Ira Mattice, 24, of 8028 Dar Lane in Zephyrhills, was charged with aggravated assault after the confrontation on Wednesday in Ridge Manor.

Police say the incident started about 7 p.m. Wednesday when a small green car carrying Mattice began tailgating Scott Barbour in his vehicle driving west on Richardson Boulevard.

Barbour, 37, told police he was driving the speed limit, about 30 mph, and blocked the green car from passing for fear the dusty road conditions might cause an accident. He then turned south on Castleberry Drive and approached his home.

Mattice, a passenger in the green car, jumped out, and an argument between the men ensued.

"Ira stated to Scott that he was going to turn his pit bulls loose on him and that they would eat him alive like a hog since he looked like one," a sheriff's report said. Mattice then brought the dogs out of the car and held them by choke chains, the report said.

According to the report, Barbour, fearing the black pit bull was the most aggressive and would attack him if Mattice let him go, began planning his escape: jump the fence and flee into his yard.

"Scott told Ira if he let the dogs go, he would be making a big mistake," the report said. "Ira then told him the dogs would kill him and he would be pounding his head while they did so."

The two men continued to argue before Mattice got back into the car and left.

Neither man could be reached for comment. Mattice remained in Hernando County Jail Thursday in lieu of $1,000 bail.

Responding to the address on Cornerstone Drive where the green car's tags were registered, sheriff's deputies found Beverly Herman, who said Mattice was in the car with her daughter, Kristin Herman. Mattice was staying at her home as a guest.

Mattice told police that Kristin Herman was preparing for her learner's permit. When she tried to pass Barbour's black BMW that was driving slowly, it swerved at them. When Barbour turned, he yelled out the window at them, so they followed him.

Mattice said Barbour got out of his car yelling, asking Mattice and Kristin Herman if they wanted to die. The dogs got out of the car on their own, Mattice told police. Mattice grabbed them and told Barbour not to come closer because the dogs would bite. When Barbour kept yelling, Mattice said he got back in the car and they drove away.

However, the sheriff's report says witnesses backed up Barbour's version of the argument, leading to Mattice's arrest. The two dogs, Mick and Storm, were left at the Cornerstone Drive address under the care of Beverly Herman because the dogs had not bitten anyone and were properly licensed.

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