The man accused of bashing his grandmother with a chair Tuesday in Pine Bluffs didn’t have a gun as initially reported by law enforcement, according to his grandma and a neighbor who helped her.
“It was just really intense and just insanely scary,” Stacey Marquardt told Cowboy State Daily in a Thursday phone call. Marquardt is the neighbor of Fran Purkey, whose grandson allegedly attacked her Tuesday with a chair.
Purkey wrote in a Wednesday comment to the Pine Bluffs Police Department Facebook statement on the incident that she is Pohlman's grandmother, and that she was banged up but no bones were broken.
The address where the incident happened is registered to Purkey, Cowboy State Daily confirmed.
The suspect, Tyler Pohlman, 26, said he had a gun, Purkey claimed, “because he was trying to do suicide by police.”
This stems from a prior car crash that caused a brain injury, and from Pohlman recently drinking alcohol, Purkey wrote.
“I am so grateful to law enforcement for keeping everyone safe and getting my grandson to a place where he can’t hurt anyone, including himself,” she wrote. “They had to do what they did to protect our community and they did it well.”
Purkey asked for prayers for the family, including Pohlman.
“He really needs help to ever be OK again and we love him very much,” she said. “It’s very sad.”
Swollen, Bloody, ‘Terribly Awful’
The incident was frantic while it was happening, Marquardt told Cowboy State Daily.
Marquardt walked out onto her porch at about 4:15 that afternoon to watch her 10-year-old son as he set off on his bicycle. Just as the boy crossed Purkey’s house, said Marquardt, they both heard screaming and crashing glass.
What listeners would later describe to police as a shotgun discharging in the house was actually tempered glass breaking in Purkey’s front door, Purkey wrote in her comment.
Marquardt’s son called out to his mother for help. Marquardt rushed over to the house and found Pohlman rushing out, she said.
“He starts yelling at me, tells me to leave, tells me to get out of there,” Marquardt recalled.
But Marquardt was worried about Purkey.
“Where is she?!” Marquardt railed back. “I’m not leaving here without her, where is she?”
Just then, Purkey pushed past Pohlman, bleeding from her arm. Marquardt said she grabbed the grandmother and walked Purkey over her own home.
Pohlman yelled at Marquardt’s son, who was still with his bike in the street, Marquardt said.
“I told my son to get back to the house,” she recalled. And he did.
They all rushed inside and locked the doors. Marquardt tended Purkey’s wounds and gave her ice.
“There were about five lacerations on her arm — he’d beaten her with a chair,” said Marquardt. “So her arm was swollen and bloody and just terribly awful.”
Everyone focused on calming down and waited the situation out.
“I don’t think she would have bled out," said Marquardt, "but I do definitely think it may have been worse for her had we not gotten her out of the house.”
Marquardt is not a nurse. She is a school paraprofessional. But she knows how to tend wounds because both of her brothers raced motocross, she said. A Nebraska native, she has lived in Pine Bluffs for three years.
‘This Is Extremely Rare’
Pine Bluffs has a population of about 1,100. The police department has a “handful” of officers, said Marquardt.
She said violence and manhunts are extremely rare in the town.
“We live in such a safe, sleepy little down. Things like this just do not happen here,” she said.
Marquardt echoed Purkey’s call for prayers for the family, adding, “And we’re so glad that Fran wasn’t hurt any worse than she is. She’s such a sweet lady.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.