NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Two one-time political challengers in Niles were involved in a fight, which is now under investigation.
Former Niles councilman Patrick Kearney and the man who took his job, current councilman Doug Sollitto, were caught on camera throwing hands.
“He lunged, I took a step back and he came charging at me. As he charged at me, then I hit him, he went back, then he came charging again, saying he was going to kill me,” Sollitto said.
Sollitto says what happened in the parking lot of Cleary’s on Friday started with a discussion about the upcoming election for council at large.
“I thought it was a normal, civil conversation. I didn’t know it was a fighting mad, spitting mad literally type conversation that was going to take place,” Sollitto said.
Sollitto says he went there after learning Kearney had been talking about the race. When he felt the conversation wasn’t getting anywhere, he went outside.
“Kearney came out a second time and he spit over my pant leg, clear as can be. I guess that’s in dispute but I walked over to him for doing it, pushed the hat off his head. He came running at me. When he [ran] at me, I hit him,” Sollitto said.
“There was surprisingly clear video camera system that showed pretty good overall image of the fight that had ensued,” said Niles Police Captain John Marshall.
WKBN reached out to Kearney, who said he did not have any comment until after litigation.
Police say their investigation has been turned over to a special prosecutor who will decide how to proceed with the case.
“I guess in my position, you have to keep your guard off all the time and you just stay away from that type of environment,” Sollitto said.