Grass Valley man accused of striking YMCA staff member | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley man accused of striking YMCA staff member

A YMCA summer camp staff member returned to the job a day after police say a man, who was unprovoked, randomly struck him in the jaw.

Jacob Gillespie, a 25-year-old Grass Valley area transient, faces charges of battery causing serious bodily injury and a probation violation. Arrested Thursday afternoon, Gillespie went to the hospital for evaluation and was booked Friday into the Nevada County Jail, Capt. Steve Johnson said in an email.

Officers responded around noon Thursday to Memorial Park about the assault. They learned that a man later identified as Gillespie approached a staff member and hit him in the jaw before leaving, Johnson said.

"By all accounts, the assault was completely unprovoked and random," he added.

Jay Lowden — president and CEO of the YMCA of Superior California, an area that includes Nevada County — said two staff members saw Gillespie approach the summer camp. One of them was about to tell Gillespie he couldn't be in the area because of the camp.

"He got about two words out before this individual struck one of my staff members," Lowden said.

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Officers obtained a description of Gillespie from witnesses and found him about two hours later, Johnson said.

According to the captain, local police have arrested Gillespie 49 times. Six of those arrests happened over the past four months. His charges include theft, assault and drugs.

Lowden praised his staff, calling their performance exceptional.

"They took care of the kids, made sure the kids were safe," Lowden said. "Called parents, notified authorities. I can't speak highly enough for what they did."

The victim was taken to the hospital, examined and released. He returned Friday to the camp, Lowden said.

The camp is in its fifth of seven weeks. About 40 to 45 kids attend each week, he said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.