Think of him as a long-haired, white, suburban trouble magnet…
Wherever hard rocking former Merriam councilman Dan Leap goes conflict and angst seem almost sure to follow.
Since Leap settled into Merriam’s sleepy downtown years ago – living large, high atop his Guitar Lamp selling retail biz – it’s been one dogfight after another.
First it was Leap’s long blonde locks and appetite for heavy metal music that ruffled the feathers of the more conservative pols and town folk.
Then he got into a fracas with the city over trying to take away the parking in front of his store. Followed by a sign ordinance fight over a giant, inflatable Halloween pumpkin atop Leap’s building. And more head butting over the subsequent succession of inflatable turkeys, snowmen, Santas, bunny rabbits, leprechauns and a giant red, white and blue peace sign hand – all of which Leap put up just to rile Merriam officials.
Starting with a series of controversial picture window displays facing downtown’s main drag with “window art” ranging from “Peep Shows” to parodies of Merriam’s mayor and city council – including a mayor-inspired Pinocchio with a motorized growing nose.
Then there was the building-sized mural of a scantily clad woman with her hand on her butt with the caption, “Parking in Rear.”
You get the picture.
And somewhere along Leap’s merry way, in 2004, came a spate of window breakings and shootings. Some of which were later attributed to senior citizen Charles W. Worthington who was prosecuted and put on probation for firing a pellet gun into Leap’s panes.
“Nine years go by with no windows getting damaged and then all of a sudden on December 18th – bam! – my windows got shot,” Leap says. “Three times – one on December 18th, one about a week and a half later and another one in early January.”
Tiny pellet holes?
“Oh no, they’re big, old holes,” Leap says. “You could put your fist through those holes and not cut your fist. And those windows cost $1,000 a pop.”
At a hearing Thursday morning in Johnson County district court, judge James Phelan told Leap, “I am ordering Mr. Worthington to stay away from you and have no contact…And if he violates those orders, you need to call the police and if he does, he’ll go to jail.”
A trial date was set for May 22, 2013.
The $64 million question: what’s Worthington have against Leap?
“Well, about a year and a half ago I was coming out of the post office in Shawnee and he was holding a bunch of stuff, so I thought I’d hold the door for him,” Worthington says.”And when we got up real close and he could see my face and I could see his, he shoved the door into me. It didn’t do much, but it was just the idea.”
Worthington stopped short of admitting he shot Leap’s windows.
“I tried to two times with a pellet gun,” he says. “But then there was a piece of metal there that was shot with a slingshot or something.”
Leap’s response: “I don’t even know what in the hell he’s talking about, with this post office business.”
So is Worthington at least willing to put the feud behind him?
“I already have,” he says. “It’s over as far as I’m concerned.”
Restitution aside then, does Leap feel maybe a little sorry for the 86 year-old?
“No, I don’t,” Leap says “I hope they put him in the slammer to teach him a fucking lesson. I don’t think old is an excuse for being an idiot.”