Lakeville tree trimmer fight mixes chainsaw and racial slurs

Tree trimmer fight mixes chainsaw, shovel and racial slurs

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LAKEVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) -

It's definitely not a typical workplace disagreement, but one member of a tree trimming crew in Lakeville, Minn., is now facing assault charges   after an on-the-job argument turned into a chainsaw-wielding confrontation.

Jason Warren Schultz, 34, of Little Falls, Minn., is charged with second-degree assault for his role in the June 4 incident that unfolded on the 16700 block of Jalisco Terrace.

"They were fighting from day one," Cara Lee, who witnessed the chainsaw fight, told Fox 9 News. "From the morning it started, they hated each other, I guess."

Lee was working on her deck while her next-door neighbors dead tree was being removed, and she said the men were bickering the entire time.

According to the charges, Schultz had been up in a tree, cutting branches and throwing them down toward his coworker.

"He didn't feel safe in the tree," Lee said. "I don't know how the day started with those two. I mean, if you're up in a dead tree, you expect someone to be paying attention and helping you."

When the coworker asked Schultz to stop throwing branches in his direction, Schultz apparently got angry and started shouting racial slurs at him, calling him a n-----. The two continued to yell at each other as Schultz got down from the tree and went to another yard. Schultz then allegedly returned with a chainsaw, started it up and walked toward his coworker while yelling, “I’m going to kill you!”

"It escalated," Lee said. "It didn't need to."

Witnesses told police that Schultz continued to shout racial slurs during the confrontation, telling him to “go back to where you belong, n-----” and “I’m going to cut you, n-----!” Witnesses said the victim told Schultz to “get away from me…we need to go back to work.”

As Schultz moved within a couple feet of his coworker with the chainsaw held in an upright position, his coworker grabbed a shovel to defend himself.

"He's holding the shovel like a baseball bat and all you hear is the chainsaw going 'ping' off the shovel the whole time," Lee recalled. "I'm just standing there like, 'Wow, this is not really happening right now.'"

The coworkers eventually took the fight to the front yard, and several nervous neighbors called 911 before calming the duo down before anyone got seriously hurt. According to the charges, however, no physical contact was made before police arrived.

"I'm fine with them wanting to pound each other with their fists, but not use weapons like that," Lee said. "A chain saw, you just shake your head going, 'Is this really happening in our neighborhood?'"

When officers spoke with Schultz, he said he was “hot and upset” because his coworker was yelling at him while he was trying to work in the tree. He declined to give a statement following his arrest and never did come back to pick up the remaining logs.

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