A five-hour incident that began when a Cambria man was reported for ranting at a neighbor Monday morning degenerated into a tense situation that left the angry man’s wounded grandmother in the hospital and deputies negotiating until late afternoon with the grandson, who allegedly caused her injuries.
James Scott Rimbach, 46, surrendered to deputies at his family’s downtown Bridge Street home about 4 p.m.
According to Sheriff’s Cmdr. James Voge, law enforcement was aware at the outset that Rimbach has a history of mental health issues, a prior arrest for elder abuse and was released recently from confinement, but apparently wasn’t on parole or probation.
A neighbor reported about 11 a.m. that Rimbach “was making threats, and was inside the house, being very loud and disruptive,” Voge said.
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In the early stages, no crime had been reported, and law enforcers couldn’t reach Rimbach’s mother, Charlotte Reese, or grandmother, Elizabeth Reese, apparently because they’d left the house. But because deputies were aware that the situation could escalate quickly, they waited at a nearby church parking lot.
“We didn’t want to escalate the situation by going to the house and confronting him,” or even by being visible, Voge said. “We’d had no indication that a crime had been committed, so under those circumstances, we don’t make a forced entry or even ‘door knock’ the house.”
Then, unbeknownst to the deputies, the mother and grandmother returned about 1:30 p.m., Voge said.
Soon thereafter, Rimbach and the women apparently were arguing on the front porch when he “struck his grandmother, causing lacerations to her face and forehead,” Voge said. “He also grabbed the broom out of his mother’s hand and used it to strike grandma.”
Deputies quickly responded, as did the ambulance that took Elizabeth Reese to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, which specializes in trauma cases.
Krista Deans, spokeswoman for Sierra Vista, said Monday night that Reese is in stable condition.
Voge said Charlotte Reese remained in the house, waiting to go to the hospital until after the incident was over.
Deputies and State Parks rangers set up a perimeter around the house and began negotiating with Rimbach to come out.
He had been arrested in 2016 for elder abuse and resisting arrest. In that incident. “There definitely was an altercation,” Voge said. “We didn’t want that to happen again. In these kinds of cases, we want a good ending,” with everybody safe and nobody injured.
Over the next couple of hours, negotiators had “several conversations” with Rimbach, Voge said, “by phone or when he’d come to the front window.”
At 3:30 p.m., law enforcement closed the intersection of Main and Bridge streets as a public safety precaution. “Finally, he (Rimbach) came out with his dog and continued the conversation,” Voge said. “Then he came to the street, and we convinced him” to surrender.
Krista Deans, spokeswoman for Sierra Vista, said Monday night that Elizabeth Reese is in stable condition.
Rimbach was booked into County Jail on three felony charges: battery causing serious bodily injury; elder abuse; and assault with a deadly weapon. Bail was set at $50,000.