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Suspected garbage dumping leads to scuffle

Clarks Grove man faces charges

A Clarks Grove man was charged in Freeborn County District Court last week with allegedly assaulting a man he suspected had been dumping garbage on his property for more than a year.

Howard David Johnson, 68, was reportedly sitting in the ditch across from his property at 74789 270th St. early Aug. 30 in an attempt to catch the man when he saw a car pull up to his driveway.

Howard Johnson

Howard Johnson

Johnson told Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office deputies that he crossed the road and went to get the license plate number off the car when a man, identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Herman Bert Oldenkamp, 72, of Oakland, reportedly threw a bin of garbage in his direction and began to approach him, court documents stated.

Johnson reportedly hit Oldenkamp in the head with what he first said was a bat and later described as his walking stick. A struggle ensued, and Johnson ultimately punched Oldenkamp in the face and then held him down and called 911. The call came into dispatchers at 2:24 a.m.

When authorities arrived, Oldenkamp was “bleeding profusely,” court documents stated. He had a deep laceration on his forehead, and his right eye was completely swollen shut.

During an interview with a Sheriff’s Office detective, Johnson reportedly said he had been sitting at the end of his driveway since about 11 p.m. Aug. 29 because someone had been dumping garbage at the end of his driveway and leaving notes accusing him of criminal activity in 2000. He placed surveillance cameras in the area to try to capture the man who he believed had been dumping garbage.

Johnson said he did not know how many times he had hit the man with the stick but alleged that Oldenkamp had been swinging his arms as he approached him. Deputies later retrieved the camera video.

Johnson faces one count of second-degree assault. The charge carries a maximum fine of seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine.

Oldenkamp has not been charged.