Aspen area man douses neighbor with bear spray in ongoing feud

A 52-year-old resident of Truscott Apartments sprayed his 57-year-old neighbor in the face and head with bear spray Sunday after a confrontation between the two, police said Monday.

The two men have a long-running feud and both have been threatened with eviction if they can’t resolve their differences, which doesn’t appear to be happening, said Aspen police Officer Dan Davis.

“It’s an ongoing feud over a lot of things,” Davis said. “Both have refused mediation.”

Courtlandt Kirk, 52, was arrested after Sunday’s incident and charged with misdemeanor assault after police declined to believe his version of events, Davis said. The 57-year-old was treated at the scene by paramedics, he said.

The incident was first reported to police at 5:10 p.m., after Kirk said he arrived home with his 7-year-old daughter, said Aspen police Sgt. Rick Magnuson. Kirk said his neighbor accosted him and tried to enter his apartment, and he grabbed the bear spray located near the front door and sprayed the man in an attempt to protect his daughter, Magnuson said.

Davis, who was on scene after the confrontation, said the pattern left by the bear spray did not support Kirk’s story. It appeared that the neighbor was in the hallway when he was sprayed on the side of the face and back of the head, Davis said.

In addition, it appeared that Kirk followed the neighbor as he retreated back to his own unit, though it didn’t look like Kirk followed the neighbor inside, he said. Police found bear spray on the neighbor’s kitchen counter.

“The evidence suggests (Kirk) kept spraying him as (the neighbor) retreated into his unit,” Davis said.

Bear spray contains a higher concentrated level of cayenne pepper extract than normal pepper spray, Davis said.

“That was the first time I’ve experienced bear spray,” Davis said. “It took my breath away. It gave me the feeling of respiratory arrest. That stuff is not supposed to be used in enclosed places.”