26-year-old Gina Briggs got arrested — and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and use of a weapon during a felony — for threatening a maintenance worker with a gun. Why? Because Carlos Reoicio’s leaf blower was too loud, and it woke her up.
A case of inconsiderate neighbors? Not exactly: Repicio works for Briggs’ apartment complex in Ormond Beach, Fla., and was just doing his job.
When WESH Channel 2 reported on the incident, Briggs still looked quite pleased with herself (see the photo below).
And this writer shamefully admits that — since she, too, gets driven mad by the roaring, asthma-inducing leaf blowers around her apartment complex — she only managed to restrain herself from smiling with Briggs out of sympathy for Repicio.
Recipio describes his encounter with Briggs.
A highly voluble and expressive Repicio gave a lively account of the incident to WFTV 9:
“I say ‘I got to work here.’ She said ‘I don’t care. You got to get out of here because I’m killing you.’ And I say, ‘What?’ And she take the gun out and she point to me [gestures] like that.”
Repicio took stock of Briggs, and thought she looked insane:
“She looked crazy. the face. the eyes was big like that.”
He claims he wasn’t scared, but still figured it would be wise to turn off the leaf blower.
“I say, ‘Are you happy now?’ And she say, ‘Yeah, but you have to get out of here.’
But maybe Repicio should have been scared. The folks at Channel 9 say that during questioning at the Volusia County jail, Briggs told investigators she would have shot him in the head if the gun had been loaded. She also has a prior record for battery.
Meanwhile, Repicio’s wife and six-year-old daughter must be heaving a huge sigh of relief.
How bad are leaf blowers?
Briggs definitely comes across as having mental health issues (which, alas, are unlikely to be treated in prison), but lots of people feel driven to near-insanity by leaf blowers. They’re noisy, their motors emanate noxious fumes, and the debris they stir up are a public health hazard.
NoNoise.Org’s Leaf Blower Facts reports that noise pollution itself is a health hazard: The motors can reach 90-100 decibels, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends workers wear earphones or ear plugs to protect themselves from any over 85 decibels. That explains why you’ve probably seen maintenance workers like Repicio wearing ear plugs while using leaf blowers.
Unfortunately, neighbors and passersby might not happen to have their ear plugs handy when they encounter leaf blowers.
Oh, and those leaf blowers stir up more than leaves. There are lots of allergy-inducing and downright scary stuff in those airborne debris, including: Dust, mold, animal feces, pesticides, and other particulate matter that cause respiratory distress for people with allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and other illnesses and lung diseases.
That’s why so many towns and cities have already banned leaf blowers — at least the gas-powered kind.