Motorist jailed in firefighter fracas

Police say man was angry at being cut off, punched a firefighter in the face.

By BRIDGET MURPHY, The Times-Union

A Jacksonville man was jailed Thursday after a road rage incident turned into a firehouse slugfest.

Police said he punched a firefighter in the face after complaining a fire engine cut off his car as the vehicle backed into the station's driveway.

The brawl happened at 7:20 a.m. outside Fire Station 44 at 8275 Western Way Circle in the city's Baymeadows section. It landed 29-year-old Dennis Odoms in the Duval County jail on a third-degree felony charge of battering a firefighter.

The confrontation kicked off when Fire Engineer Lee Coughlin turned the pumper into the station's driveway, then drove into the street again so he could back the apparatus into the firehouse, authorities said.

Coughlin, 28, told police he saw a vehicle drive past the engine, before its horn blew and it stopped in the street. He said Odoms got out and walked back to the fire engine with his hands above his head, yelling at the fire engineer that he almost hit his vehicle.

Firefighter Greg Adame, 27, told police Coughlin and Odoms were facing off in the street when he got off the back of the engine and told Odoms to move. That's when the 6-foot-tall, 235-pound Odoms, turned and slugged 5-foot-5, 150-pound Adame once in the face, according to authorities.

The punch sparked a struggle, with Coughlin, Fire Lt. Andrew Harrold, 38, and firefighter Dan Dumas, 33, jumping in to subdue Odoms, a Sheriff's Office report said.

Firefighters held Odoms on the ground until police arrived and handcuffed him, authorities said. The man told police his wife was driving him and his family past the firehouse when the pumper cut them off by turning in front of them.

Odoms said they narrowly avoided a collision and that as their vehicle drove past the apparatus, someone blew the horn back at them, prompting him to confront Coughlin in the road. Odoms also told police Adame cursed at him as he exchanged words with Coughlin, before he turned around and punched the firefighter, the police report said.

A crime scene technician came to the firehouse to photograph what authorities said were minor injuries both Adame and Odoms had from the fight.

Odoms, of the 7800 block of Southside Boulevard, works at a networking company close to the firehouse and has no record of any other local arrests, according to police records. He was still in jail Thursday evening., (904) 359-4161