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Irascible squirrel holds neighborhood hostage


WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- This is one surly squirrel. Police have set traps, sent out special patrols, even cornered the critter, all to no avail. Try as they may, they can't catch the elusive gray squirrel that has attacked at least eight people during the past three weeks.
The furry suspect with beady black eyes has taken over a tree-lined neighborhood in this Columbus suburb, lying in wait on porches and park benches.
"It's just impossible to catch a squirrel," said police Sgt. Mike Hatzo, who cornered the critter on a porch and underneath a car with no luck. Hatzo saw the squirrel leap at one victim and bite her leg while he was patrolling the area last week.
The squirrel stays in a two-block area, and appears to be friendly, inching closer and closer before making its move.
"Then he just zooms up your leg like it was a tree," Vicki Albright said, recounting her 13-year-old daughter's description of how the rodent bit her on the leg. Albright says the squirrel has also chased her other children. None of the injuries has been too serious, but nearly all the victims have taken antibiotics to ward off any diseases the squirrel may carry. Most squirrels don't carry rabies.
Since the squirrel seems so comfortable approaching humans -- and didn't make an appearance until school got out -- officials think it may have belonged to a student at Otterbein College, a liberal arts school that borders the neighborhood.
"He's vicious," Albright said. "He's either been someone's pet or he's just crazy."
Among the victims are a United Parcel Service delivery man bitten on the knee and a college student scratched and bitten while walking to his car. About a week ago, the squirrel went on a real tear, attacking three people in one day. "It's absolutely not intimidated by anyone," Lt. Don Richardson said. "Personally, I think it was raised by someone."
There haven't been any reports of attacks for almost a week, and police say the squirrel may have been injured when it was struck by a victim.




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