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Scuffle at City Hall | UPDATED
Amidst a tense Bainbridge Island City Council meeting, a scuffle broke out between two prominent islanders in the council chambers Wednesday evening.
The confrontation between former city councilman Bill Knobloch and Robert Dashiell occurred just as the council took a recess after a contentious debate over the immediate firing of City Manager Brenda Bauer.
Bystanders separated Knobloch and Dashiell shortly after the fight began.
“He punched me in the jaw and then went for my throat and pushed me back on the table,” Knobloch said. “I was leaving the hall and he met me at the door and we exchanged words and he then attacked me.”
The incident started as Knobloch passed Dashiell while he was leaving the room.
Several witnesses said Dashiell, who unsuccessfully ran for the council against Councilwoman Sarah Blossom in November, appeared to push Knobloch across a table. Bystanders then separated the two as Dashiell gripped Knobloch by his shirt.
An officer for the Bainbridge Island Police Department detained both men in the lobby of city hall as another officer was called to the scene shortly before 9:30 p.m.
“You don’t punch someone in public,” Knobloch told Dashiell as police separated them.
“I didn’t punch you,” Dashiell replied.
Both men gave statements to police.
Knobloch initially intended to file for a restraining order against Dashiell. If the restraining order was violated, he would then press charges. However, on Thursday morning Knobloch said he had decided to take a “deep breath,” and is currently only considering the action.
The two men have different accounts of the scrap.
Dashiell said he was sitting in the back of council chambers, as he commonly does each week. Knobloch started to leave just after the decision on Bauer had been cast.
“I turned to Knobloch, because Knobloch was very active in removing the city manager,” Dashiell said. “I said ‘Well, you finally got what you wanted.’ And (Knobloch) said, ‘Almost got what I wanted.’”
According to Dashiell, Knobloch then approached him and proceeded to jam his index finger underneath Dashiell’s chin, forcing his head up. He said Knobloch then cursed at him.
“And I just pushed him back with two hands and he fell back against the table,” Dashiell said.
Dashiell said that the two men have had “bad blood” for some time now, and that when Knobloch used to leave the council chambers he would commonly “flip the bird” at him.
According to Knobloch’s version of events, Dashiell first punched him on the jaw as he was trying to leave.
“I said, ‘Try that again,’ and he went after me, and he was going after my throat and he pushed me back on the table,” Knobloch said.
The incident also knocked former councilwoman Debbie Vann, who was behind Knobloch, to the ground, according to Knobloch.
Knobloch agreed with Dashiell on one detail — they do have a history. He said that the two have disagreed politically for years and Dashiell has been vocal about that.