Nasty battle over water in a dog’s bowl lands Umatilla man behind bars

Michael James Dunbar

A man with a history of domestic violence was arrested Tuesday after getting in a brawl with a woman and her son over how some dogs were being treated.

The female victim told a Marion County sheriff’s deputy that she and her son had driven from Virginia to retrieve some things from the home of Michael James Dunbar, 40, of 16700 SE 252nd Ave. in Umatilla. When they arrived, the woman said Dunbar was heavily intoxicated and she tried to avoid him, a sheriff’s office report states.

The victim said she was looking at some of the dogs in the front yard and saw they didn’t have food or water. When she went inside to get water for the dogs, Dunbar became irate and started screaming obscenities. He then reached forward, pushed her and began to grab her by her neck when her son stepped between them, the report says.

Dunbar pushed her son and they began to grapple. The victim said Dunbar put both hands around her son’s neck but she wasn’t sure whether he actually choked him.

The son said he had gone inside the home to gather his belongings and when he came out, he heard Dunbar yelling and saw him push his mother and grab her by the neck. He said Dunbar grabbed him by the neck and squeezed it during their scuffle, but his breathing wasn’t constricted. A witness said Dunbar instigated the fight, the report says.

A deputy noted that the female victim had red marks on both sides of her neck, while her son had large red marks on scratches on his chest, arms and neck.

Dunbar said the arguments were only verbal and that he didn’t get into a physical altercation with either victim. He said he was mad at the woman for making statements about the dogs and when he confronted her, the victim’s son stepped between them and prevented things from escalating. When asked about the marks on his arms and chest, Dunbar refused to give an explanation.

Dunbar was charged with domestic battery twice in 2005 and for violating a domestic violence protection order in 2015. He also has been arrested for burglary, theft, trespassing, and criminal mischief.

In the most recent incident, Dunbar was charged with battery by touching or striking and domestic battery by strangulation. He was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he was released Wednesday on $11,000 bond. He’ll answer the charges in Marion County Court on March 12.