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Columbus man facing charges after ax attack

Court records show Anthony Margiotti dragged a code enforcement officer by her hair and then smashed her vehicle with an ax.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When a Columbus code enforcement officer stopped by a property on South Ashburton Road on Thursday, she thought it was empty.

After all, the property was the subject of a court case filed by the City of Columbus because it was an unsecured vacant structure. Properties that are vacant are required to be boarded up and secured.

“She thought it was vacant because it’s been vacant,” said Cynthia Rickman, assistant director for the Dept. of Building and Zoning Services, which oversees code enforcement.

The officer was there to take additional photos for use at a court hearing set for Monday in that case. But, it turns out, the property owner was home after all.

According to Franklin County Municipal Court records, Anthony Margiotti walked out of the front door, yelling and swearing at the officer. He then grabbed her by her shirt collar and hair and dragged her to where her vehicle was parked on the street, all while holding an ax in his hand. The officer managed to run away to call 911. Margiotti then smashed the vehicle’s windows and work computer inside.

Margiotti is now charged with criminal damaging, kidnapping and harassment, which is because Margiotti is accused of spitting in the face of one of the arresting officers.

“No one would have expected that, and so, I’m sure the trauma, it’s like anything else, sometimes it doesn’t hit you then, it hits you later,” Rickman said of the officer, who is recovering at home.

The officer was working alone when responding to the property. And Rickman says that is typical. The department responds to between 25,000 and 30,000 complaints each year, with each officer handling between 10 and 15 calls complaints a day. Of the roughly 50 code enforcement officers with the city, more than 20 are women.

“One of the things that we’re always concerned about is the safety of our officers,” Rickman said. “And so, they do have radios, they have cell phones. And so, they do have equipment to, while they’re in the field, that, in case of a situation, not this extreme, but for anything, a situation where someone may be upset about getting a violation, that they have things at their disposal to call for help.”

Rickman adds that the department does have a good relationship with the Columbus Division of Police. And code enforcement officers are often in touch with CPD’s community liaison officers when visiting certain neighborhoods. But she said that, pairing up a code enforcement officer with a CPD officer for each call would not be feasible logistically. Plus, incidents of violence are rare. Officers typically are prepared to be on the lookout for loose dogs.

“Our code enforcement officers’ job is to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods,” Rickman said. “So, when folks see them out there, they’re not out there to get anybody. They’re responding to complaints to try to ensure that our neighborhoods are safe because, again, when you have vacant properties, those are havens for crime and that sort of thing, and so, we want folks, if you’re a property owner, board up your property, just do the right thing as it relates to being a property owner. And so, that’s what our code enforcement officers are about. They’re out there, they’re out there trying to ensure that our neighborhoods are safe.”

A hearing on the court case tied to the property is set for Monday.

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