Charged campaign zaps Chapel Hill boy
Posted October 30, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The presidential campaign has electrified the nation, and one Chapel Hill boy literally got jolted by it.
The 9-year-old boy got a shock Monday from a campaign sign that a neighbor had hooked up to the power source for an electric pet fence.
The neighbor, Shawn Turschak, said he was tired of people stealing McCain-Palin campaign signs from his yard, so he rigged two signs as booby traps.
"I was just furious," he said.
His neighbor, Marion Houser, said she's also had a McCain-Palin sign stolen from her yard.
"You have to clearly walk up the driveway to have gotten the sign," Houser said.
Turschak, who has a degree in electrical engineering, said the current that ran through his electrified signs was so low it wouldn't hurt someone, but he also put yellow warning signs up.
"Obviously, we are not looking to hurt anyone. We simply want our signs to say put," he said. "(The warning sign) just reminds you that you are touching somebody else's property that you shouldn't be."
He mounted a surveillance camera in a nearby tree and captured video of the 9-year-old getting shocked by one sign. The boy was carrying a sign for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at the time.
"It is obvious from the video that he was coming to remove my sign and replace it with his," Turschak said.
The boy's father, Andrew Noble, upset that his son had been shocked, showed up at Turschak's door. Soon, an Orange County deputy also showed up, too.
Noble said his son just wanted to see how the sign was put together.
Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said he doesn't plan to file charges.
The boy's mother said her son knows better than to remove a campaign sign, but she said Turschak's decision to electrify the signs was a bit extreme.
Turschak turned off the electrical system, but he caught another neighbor on camera Wednesday afternoon stealing his signs.
Some neighbors suggested the area where Turschak posted the sign belongs to the subdivision. He maintained it was his property and said people should respect his right to express his opinion even if they don't agree with his views.
"I could ride around Chapel Hill with a dump truck and in two hours fill it up with Obama signs," he said. "I choose not to do that."