SEATTLE -- The "superhero" crime-fighter known as Phoenix Jones who has become an international celebrity for his masked patrols of Seattle's mean streets didn't fare so well over the weekend. He was arrested for pepper-spraying a group of patrons leaving a downtown club.
The men and women were walking to their car early Sunday, "dancing and having a good time," when Jones allegedly came up behind them wielding the pepper spray, a Seattle police report says.
Two men in the group chased Jones down the street until police came and separated the group. Jones was arrested on four counts of assault and hauled off to jail.
Police on Monday morning told the Los Angeles Times that Jones indeed was the man described in the arrest report, but said they would not have additional details until later in the day.
A spokesman for Jones, Peter Tangen, told the PubliCola news website that the incident didn't happen as the police described it. Jones, he said, was trying to break up a fight.
Barring a big change in the script, Jones is scheduled for arraignment later this week.
Jones has appeared in international news accounts and network television as the most famous of the Seattle brand of superhero street patrols that have sprung up in cities across the United States.
Clad in masks, tights and substantial attitudes, rolling through the rainy streets in a Kia Forte, the "Rain City Superheroes" say they aim to be the eyes, ears and iron will of the cops when the cops can't be there.
Jones was even spoofed on "Saturday Night Live" when he broke his nose earlier this year.
One local man told KIRO-TV in January that Jones suddenly showed up when a man was trying to break into his car in a parking lot. "From the right, this guy comes dashing in, wearing this skin-tight rubber, black and gold suit, and starts chasing him away," recounted the man, identified only as Dan.
"My name is Phoenix Jones," the man announced.
In September, Jones claimed to have foiled the attempted carjacking of a party bus, spraying a man who was struggling with the bus driver with pepper spray and sending him running, according to PubliCola.
"It's a pretty simple message. Citizens need to be more accountable. Calling 911 is a great start, but it's not the end all to end all," Jones told ABC News in an interview. "Criminals feel free to just run wild in my city, and I'm not going to stand for it."
The city has responded, some of the time, with gratitude. "Seattle needs you, Phoenix Jones. Don't give up!" someone wrote in on the Rain City Superheroes' Facebook page.
The police have been less than worshipful. Even before the latest pepper spray melee, police distributed a memo warning patrols to be watchful for the masked men.
When Jones got his nose broken while trying to break up a fight in January (one of the parties pulled a gun, which apparently trumped the headlock Jones had his friend in, resulting in the friend applying the toe of his boot to Jones' face), the police didn't appear all that sympathetic.
"Does Superman get his (expletive) kicked?" a Seattle detective asked Seattlepi.com. "These people should not be called superheroes."
(c)2011 the Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services