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Fight over recyclables leads to Petaluma choking arrest

Police say a dispute between two homeless Petaluma men over three bags of recyclable containers they had collected and hoped to cash in turned violent Wednesday night, when one choked the other with a length of bicycle chain.

The victim was strangled until he passed out - waking to find his reading glasses, some marijuana, $50 in cash and a pack of cigarettes missing, along with the recylables, police said.

The fight occurred around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday in the Lynch Creek area on Petaluma's east side, near a Lucchesi Park homeless encampment where the suspect eventually was arrested, police said.

The victim, Jason L. Etheridge, 42, walked to nearby Petaluma Valley Hospital when he awoke and was treated for injuries before being released, police said.

It was hospital personnel who notified police of the incident, and officers eventually arrested Joshua Mertz, 25, at the homeless camp.

He was arrested for suspected robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, police said.

He was being booked Thursday morning, with bail of $50,000, jail personnel said.


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