By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Hill County Sheriff's Office has investigated a complaint filed by the husband of a Havre City Council member against Mayor Bob Rice and has referred the complaint to the County Attorney's Office to decide if charges should be filed, Sheriff Greg Szudera said Tuesday.
Szudera said the complaint involves an alleged verbal altercation between Lyle Lossing, husband of Democratic City Council member Emily Mayer Lossing, and Rice and one of Rice's sons at the Holiday Village Shopping Center on Dec. 23.
"Mr. Lossing and Mayor Bob Rice met each other in the hallway of Holiday Village mall and had a verbal exchange of words," Szudera said.
The complaint filed with the Sheriff's Office identifies the son as William Rice, 31. Mayor Rice said the son who was with him was Rob Rice.
Mayor Rice, who is a Republican, said Tuesday that Lossing and Rob Rice had an argument at the mall, and that he acted as a peacekeeper. Rob lives in San Diego, Calif., and was in Havre visiting family for Christmas, the mayor said.
"I told him, 'Hey, this isn't worth it," the mayor said.
Rob Rice said in a telephone interview from San Diego on Tuesday that the argument was between him and Lossing, and began when Lossing called his father a "jerk."
Mayor Rice "goes through a lot of grief up there and he can't do anything about it," Rob Rice said. "If I'm up there and someone disrespects my family, I can do something about it. I didn't appreciate the comment being made in front of me."
Rob Rice said his brother, William, wasn't in Havre at the time of the incident. William Rice lives in Utah.
Lossing, who filed the complaint on Jan. 6, declined to comment. The complaint alleges that Rice and his son committed assault by coercion, intimidation or threat.
Two witnesses listed on the deputy's initial incident report declined to comment.
Mayor Rice was not interviewed by deputies.
"That will be left up to the county attorney to evaluate if he does or doesn't need to be interviewed," Szudera said.