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Man charged with assault in school board meeting scuffle

Prosecutors say Thomas Wayne Kahlbaugh took a man's phone and grabbed his shirt during a debate over masking at the Eastern Carver County School board meeting.

CHASKA, Minn. — A parent is charged with assault and disorderly conduct in connection with a scuffle that took place during a listening session about COVID masking policies at an Eastern Carver County School Board meeting. 

Carver County prosecutors say 47-year-old Thomas Wayne Kahlbaugh took another man's cell phone and grabbed his shirt during the contentious Sept. 27 meeting. A number of parents and district residents had signed up to speak to the board about a temporary mask mandate put in place amidst rising COVID infection rates. 

The incident was captured on a district live stream of the meeting. Prosecutors allege that Kahlbaugh was unhappy after a man wearing a mask spoke in favor of the mandate, rolled his chair over to the podium and confronted the speaker, Jonas Sjoberg. The complaint says words were exchanged between the men, but nothing happened. 

A short time later, prosecutors say, Sjoberg too a picture of Kahlbaugh on his phone for the purpose of sending it to the school board to notify them that the defendant was seeking to intimidate and stop people from speaking. A woman identified as Kahlbaugh's wife approached Sjoberg and asked him why he took the picture, and told him to delete it. 

RELATED: Debate over masking policy triggers scuffle at Eastern Carver County school board meeting

It was then prosecutors say that the physical conflict started. Witnesses say Kahlbaugh took Sjoberg's phone with one hand and grabbed his shirt with the other, dragging him across the room until two other men intervened. The complaint says Kahlbaugh then threw the other man's phone to the ground. 

Sjoberg, who shared his side of the story with KARE 11's Lou Raguse following the incident, told responding officers that his shirt was ripped, a button was broken and he may have been scratched during the scuffle.