A bizarre throw-down this week under an American flag hanging from a house across from the old Ellet IGA almost certainly stopped traffic along busy Darrow Road.

It pitted two senior citizens against a 33-year-old Summit Metro Parks ranger who ultimately wrestled the husband and kicked the wife to the ground of their tiny front yard and put them in handcuffs.

The couple is apparently OK and the ranger, Jeffrey Axner, is on paid administrative leave while Summit Metro Parks investigates what started with the simple honk of a horn.

According to Summit Metro Parks reports, everything started about 9:19 a.m. Wednesday on Newton Street at the main entrance to Goodyear Heights Metro Park.

Carl Wilson, 72, and his wife, Margaret Wilson, 71, were driving east in their red Ford Ranger pickup behind Axner in his marked park ranger vehicle.

Axner flipped on his turn signal to turn left into the park and said Carl Wilson honked his horn and then angled right and drove around Axner.

“Since I had not made any vehicular maneuver that would normally cause a person to activate their vehicle’s horn, I found it suspicious and determined that I should contact the driver and occupants to determine if they were trying to get my attention,” Axner wrote in a report.

Axner followed the Wilsons’ truck about a half-mile, turning onto Darrow Road. When the Wilsons were less than a block from their home, Axner turned on the flashing lights of his patrol vehicle and tried to stop them, the report said.

Carl Wilson ignored the ranger’s lights, Axner said, and after pausing at a red traffic light, pulled into the driveway of their home. Axner followed, and as he exited his ranger vehicle, he said Carl Wilson “began walking toward him yelling that I can’t stop him.”

Axner said he told Wilson three times to get back into his pickup, but Wilson continued toward him “with an elevated voice in an aggressive manner,” Axner said.

Axner said he took hold of Wilson by the left arm to lead him back to the pickup. When they were about 5 feet from the truck, Axner said, Wilson tried to push the ranger away.

When Axner used his radio to call for backup, Wilson yelled into the truck for his wife, Margaret, to help him.

While Axner continued to struggle with Wilson, “Margaret Wilson approach[ed] [Axner]from behind brandishing an 18-inch wooden baseball bat raised over her head and in a striking position,” Axner wrote.

Axner said he ordered Margaret Wilson to drop the bat at least three times and threatened to spray her with pepper spray, but she continued.

When Margaret Wilson “was within arm’s reach,” Axner said, “I kicked her once in her mid-stomach area.”

The kick knocked Margaret to the ground.

Just then, an Akron police officer arrived for backup, Axner said. Less than 10 feet separate the front of the Wilsons’ home from Darrow Road.

Axner said the Akron officer witnessed Carl Wilson continue to struggle with Axner until Axner got him onto the ground and handcuffed him behind his back. The officer also saw Axner put handcuffs on Margaret Wilson, who remained on the ground after being kicked.

The Akron police officer, meanwhile, called paramedics to check on the Wilsons. Margaret Wilson was OK and Carl — who was wearing a protective brace to shield his heart while his bones healed following open-heart surgery — declined medical care.

Soon, another ranger and more Akron police arrived on the scene, and Axner went to his vehicle to fill out paperwork charging Carl Wilson with three misdemeanors for resisting arrest, obstructing official business and aggravated menacing. Axner charged Margaret Wilson with the same, but upped her resisting arrest to a felony.

A parks spokesman Friday said they were in the process of dropping all charges against the couple and that Axner’s boss had expressed regret about what happened to both Carl Wilson and his adult son, who called the parks to complain.

Neither Carl nor Margaret Wilson could be reached Friday. But part of their story was revealed in a report filed by a second park ranger who spoke with Carl Wilson while he remained handcuffed in his front yard waiting for Axner to charge him.

Wilson, the report said, honked his horn at Axner because the ranger was turning too slowly into the park. And he didn’t pull over for the ranger’s flashing lights because he didn’t think the ranger had authority to stop him.

Apparently angry, Wilson repeatedly used profanity against Axner as he explained to the ranger what had happened, the ranger wrote.

Wilson told the ranger he couldn’t get on the ground as Axner demanded. It’s unclear why, whether it was because his chest was too fragile from the surgery or something else.

And Margaret Wilson was only trying to protect him, Carl Wilson said, when she threatened the ranger with the baseball bat.

The ranger, Carl Wilson said, “didn’t have any right kicking my wife like that.”

Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or agarrett@thebeaconjournal.com.