Jul 15, 2022 - News

Remembering the Westerville squirrel saga of 1996

A gray squirrel eats on bark.
Photo: David Tipling/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

For three weeks in July 1996, Westerville was gripped by a fluffy, feral, foot-tall fiend.

Flashback: A gray squirrel terrorized city residents near Otterbein College, biting unsuspecting pedestrians on their legs.

  • The Westerville Division of Police did everything it could to stop the squirrel.
  • They patrolled the attack zone, set traps, and even had the vicious varmint cornered twice before it repeatedly escaped capture.

What they said: "It's just impossible to catch a squirrel," Sgt. Mike Hatzo told the AP.

  • "It's absolutely not intimidated by anyone," police Lt. Don Richardson said. "Personally, I think it was raised by someone."

The intrigue: A police officer eventually shot and killed what they thought was the attacking squirrel with a pellet gun and the bitings stopped, bringing an end to the saga. Or so they thought.

  • A year later, a squirrel from Washington that had just appeared in a movie with Alec Baldwin was brought in to film scenes for a Discovery Channel program about the Westerville squirrel attacks.
  • It escaped from its cage, never to be seen again.
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