Island man faces possible life sentence for assaulting neighbor

A Bainbridge Island man was arrested and charged with second-degree assault after allegedly attempting to douse his neighbor with a harsh-smelling liquid chemical.

James Raymond Conroy, 60, was charged in Kitsap County Superior Court for felony assault for an incident Oct. 15 at the man’s condominium complex on High School Road.

According to court records, the alleged victim called 911 to report the attack. After Bainbridge police arrived, Conroy refused to come out of his unit, thus beginning a tense standoff with authorities which lasted about an hour.

During that time he loudly threatened to set fire to the building, kill his neighbor, and shoot the officers.

Ultimately, police forced their way inside the apartment and took him into custody without further incident. He was then booked into Kitsap County Jail.

After police were notified of the attack by 911 dispatchers, they then called the victim, Conroy’s neighbor, who said both men were inside their respective units after the attack, and the victim said he was not in need of medical aid but was afraid to leave his home.

He told police he’d been long familiar with his neighbor’s “mental health issues and disturbing behavior,” which had been escalating in the previous weeks with numerous phone calls to police, the man’s pulling of the building’s fire alarm, and much unprovoked yelling, screaming and threatening by his neighbor.

Earlier that day, the man said, Conroy had threatened him again and also threatened some of the building’s cleaning crew, causing them to leave in fear. Reportedly, Conroy had on a previous occasion assaulted a female member of the crew.

The man told police he’d heard Conroy banging on the walls, then believed the man was knocking on his door. He opened it, intending to calm his neighbor, as he had on several other occasions.

But when he did, he said Conroy ran toward his door and threw a large quantity of white liquid at him, screaming all the while.

The man was able to close the door quickly enough so as to only get a small splattering of the substance on his hand. It smelled like bleach, he said, and he immediately washed it off.

Looking outside, the man said Conroy had apparently gone back into his own apartment.

It was actually the second 911 call the man had made that day about his neighbor. Earlier, Conroy had come knocking and accused him of being a King County prosecutor. That time, he’d thrown a cough drop at him. Conroy said he was watching his neighbor and threatened to “get him,” all of which was noted in a police report after an officer visited to investigate.

The man is in no way affiliated with any prosecutor’s office and has no relation to Conroy other than being his neighbor.

When police arrived at the building for the second time that day, in response to the attempted dousing, they heard Conroy banging around inside his apartment and yelling. They knew his voice, police said, and which unit he lived in, having been to his residence “numerous times in the last two years,” according to a police report on the incident.

Conroy was reportedly screaming, “[Expletive] all those women, they should die.” He also repeatedly used the word “whores” and several times proclaimed, “I’m going to shoot them all in the head.”

Police said that in numerous past interactions Conroy has used the word “whores” to refer to various women he has seen.

Police identified themselves and asked Conroy to come out of his apartment, at which point he began shouting about the ways in which he planned to murder them, set the building on fire and kill his neighbor, as well as numerous other nonsensical rantings. He staunchly refused to come out.

At one point, Conroy did open the door to toss out his cell phone, then quickly closed it again. Later, he again opened the door just long enough to toss out an empty bottle of bleach.

Police obtained a warrant and when one last plea for the man to come out failed, they announced their intention to come in, giving him 10 seconds to come outside.

He refused.

Officers forced entry into the apartment and found Conroy in the closet of his bedroom. He immediately complied with their orders and was taken into custody without further incident, though he remained loud and hostile.

Police reports noted Conroy has been “in and out of jail and mental facilities due to criminal and abusive behavior for many years.”

“The pattern, which has been clearly demonstrated, [is] that he is evaluated, attempted for restoration, provided an injectable medication and released, indicating that he is not competent or restorable,” the report went on. “The injectable medication appears to last a month to a month-and-a-half and then Conroy begins a decline in his behavior leading to malicious mischiefs, disorderly conduct and assaults.”

Conroy’s last assault was of a woman he did not know, police said.

“During this and prior incidents his behavior has shown that he becomes angry and fixed on a belief about a person or women and acts out his aggression toward them that is without prediction and random to unsuspecting citizens,” the police report said.

There are reportedly numerous examples of such behavior, both reported and not, police said.

“Additionally,” the report went on, “dozens of tenants, businesses and citizens have reported aggressive behavior and verbal harassment by Conroy. The tenants at his residence have described being imprisoned, fearful and overwhelmed by his continued behavior and advised police [on Oct. 15] that numerous tenants are going to attempt for anti-harassment orders.”

Police said they have worked extensively with local mental health resources in trying to get Conroy “long term solutions or court ordered treatment,” to no avail.

“Restrictive orders or [a] request for intervention when escalation is ramping up has been met with negative results,” according to the report.

The neighbor who Conroy attacked said in an official victim’s statement that life had previously been excellent in the apartment complex, with his having experienced no negative interactions with any neighbors, including Conroy, until very recently, when Conroy began to exhibit aggressive and disturbing behavior.

“Since the terrible incident of James Conroy attacking the cleaning crew, James has been very vocally loud, slamming his front door, leaving a grocery cart with groceries and sundries in the hallway exit for over three days, pulling the fire alarm four times in the middle of the night, verbal attacks to neighbors, threats of setting fire to the fourth floor to do harm to our HOA president … and now threats to bring harm to [another resident] and myself.”

The man said residents are afraid to walk the hallways alone and often go about in pairs for safety.

“We live in constant fear of him and his rage,” he wrote. “My family is concerned for [my partner] and me. They expect to hear from authorities that one of us has been severely injured or worse.”

Conroy was assigned a public defender Oct. 21.

Conviction of second degree assault can result in a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine.

However, as Conroy had been previously convicted on two separate occasions of a “most serious offense,” according to court filings, the mandatory penalty for this offense, if he’s found guilty, is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Conroy was ordered to be evaluated by a qualified medical expert while in custody.

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