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County sanitation worker assaulted in downtown Athens

Markel Thamon Johnson

By Joe Johnson

A homeless man was arrested Friday morning for allegedly assaulting a county employee who was picking up trash in downtown Athens, according to police.

Markel Thamon Johnson, 35, told police that the sanitation worker had followed him the night before and that when he saw the worker on East Clayton Street Friday morning “it triggered him and he just reacted," police said.

The 61-year-old victim told police that he was using a trash picker stick to remove litter from the ground at about 7:30 a.m. when, police said, he was accosted by Johnson, who yelled vulgarities, knocked a cap from the employee's head and then smacked the litter stick from the victim's hand.

A witness who had encountered Johnson just prior to the incident told police that he crossed the street to get away from the suspect because he tried to pick a fight reportedly corroborated the sanitation worker’s version of events.

Johnson was arrested for simple battery and as of Monday afternoon he continued to be jailed in lieu of a $1,000 bond.

Though an Athens-Clarke County police report indicated that Johnson was homeless, the man was booked into the county jail with a address in Gillsville, a small city in Hall and Banks counties.

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