UPDATES (IN BOLD) INDICATE VICTIM’S INJURIES MAY BE LIFE THREATENING
An out-of-town tree service worker was arrested Saturday for allegedly assaulting a Fort Mill man who was complaining about their work on a neighbor’s yard.
Zachary “A.K.” Rector, 22, of Lexington, N.C., was charged with assault & battery in the first degree on 66-year-old Edward Bearden Jr., of Friendfield Drive in Fort Mill.
Witnesses say an argument escalated quickly Saturday afternoon on Friendfield Drive when Bearden came out of his house. He was reportedly upset that the neighbor was removing a big Bradford Pear tree in his yard. He also yelled about the tree removal company and the location of their equipment and tools, according to witnesses.
At some point, Bearden approached a supervisor in a truck and got into an argument with the worker, who is disabled and unable to walk. Rector reportedly saw the argument and stepped in, trying to stop the neighbor from fighting with the paralyzed worker. That’s when Rector allegedly punched the neighbor repeatedly.
What happened next is not clear, but the owner of the tree service company claims that Bearden ran away, tripped in his own yard and hit his head on some rocks. The victim was reportedly knocked unconscious.
A police report says Bearden was transported to Piedmont Medical Center by EMS.
The homeowner told The Fort Mill Sun that they heard Rector verbally confess to hitting the victim five times, the last four blows coming as the victim was on the ground.
The homeowner said the tree crew went back to work after the assault, leaving Bearden unconscious in some brush on the ground and bleeding profusely from three wounds on his head.
“The ‘disabled’ man in the truck sat in the driver’s seat and when I asked him what happened, he shrugged his shoulders and just kept smoking,” the homeowner said. “I yelled at him to call 911.“
Bearden remains in the hospital with serious injuries that may be life-threatening, the homeowner said.
A tree-service worker, identifying herself only as Brenda, told The Fort Mill Sun that Bearden “kept on wanting to fight.”
“The man approached the vehicle, calling all of us stupid,” Brenda said. “The tree was no where near that man’s yard. … He had no business even being over there.”
A phone call to Bearden’s home went unanswered on Monday and Tuesday.
Rector remained at the York County Jail on Tuesday morning under a $15,000 bond. The tree service company is based out of Lexington, N.C.