Police: Man Goes Berserk on Bridge Street

Douglas Mills is alleged to have kicked a woman, stolen a coffee cup, and banged on windows, all while muttering gibberish.

Update: Mills allegedly assaulted an officer after he was placed in custody.

A Phoenixville man was arrested on Bridge Street last week after he assaulted a woman, stole a coffee cup, and caused disturbances outside several businesses before being pepper sprayed into submission, Phoenixville Police are reporting.

Douglas E Mills, 53, faces charges of simple assault, resisting arrest, theft, receiving stolen property, retail theft, and two counts each of disorderly conduct and harassment, stemming from the alleged September 28 incident.

According to court documents, a Phoenixville Police officer responded to the 200 block of Bridge Street at 9:14 a.m. that morning for a report of a man walking around kicking business doors.

The officer quickly identified Mills (“That’s him,” yelled a passerby the officer pulled up) and approached him as he walked towards Ellie’s Choice.

The officer confronted Mills in the alcove in the front of the store and asked him what was wrong. Mills proceeded to, according to the affidavit, “blade” his body towards the officer, hands raised. Mills then sat down on a step in front of the door and began speaking incoherently.

The officer again asked him if he was okay, at which point Mills sprung to his feet, coffee mug in hand. The officer told him to sit down, but Mills replied “No!” and continued to move towards him. Options limited, the officer pepper sprayed Mills and then, with the assistance of another officer, cuffed him and put him in the patrol car.

After Mills was securely in custody, a woman approached the officers and reported that he had poked and kicked her several times while they were in line at Heidi Sue Variety. 

Two other Bridge Street professionals had similar stories. A Steel City employee alleged that Mills stole a coffee mug from the café that morning while a State Farm Insurance rep told police Mills walked into her office, sat down, muttered unintelligible gibberish, then punched and kicked their glass doors as he left.

Douglas Mills faces a preliminary hearing on October 11.

Hipster Kitty October 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
The average middle class family typically isn't out when the young kids are downtown getting drunk and trying to hook up, as you eloquently put it Richard. If they are in the bars, and that's what Molly's is, with their children, then they are at fault for exposing themselves and their family to that type of environment. Anyways, the situations you described don't happen until after 11 p.m. This is not limited to Phoenixville. You go to any town and they have the same problem with disorderly conducts and related offenses because of bars.
Bill N. October 05, 2012 at 02:26 PM
I wonder if that was the same jerk I had to call the cops about a few weeks back. Guy was sitting on the sidewalk, next to Vecchia, cursing and yelling at everyone who passed by. Good riddance to bad trash!!
. October 05, 2012 at 02:31 PM
First of all, most of the fights and incidents (including this one) take place OUTSIDE the bars on the street. Secondly, even if someone doesn't personally witness a fight or incident, they will hear about it on the patch, through friends, the local newspapers, etc... and this may impact their decisions to come here for a night on the town. There are far too many other choices near by (Wayne, Media, "Towne Center in Oaks", King of Prussia, etc...) where safety and parking are not a concern.
. October 05, 2012 at 02:33 PM
The guy is clearly mentally ill and needs help. That said, the police should have been around to nip this in the bud instead of hanging out on Starr Street giving people tickets for going 6 mph over the speed limit.
jon gable October 05, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Reed Reish October 05, 2012 at 03:29 PM
As far as adding more police to the downtown patrol, I think the police do a good job already noticing and reacting to the problems that may arise. But if you look it this way, if you want people to have a good time you can't overwhelm them with a very noticeable presence. No one wants to go have a good time in a "police state".
Reed Reish October 05, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I don't know why my first comment didn't show up but here I go again. I work at steel city and know exactly who this man is. He is mentally ill. To say he is "street trash" is no more right than the actions he did. It's petty and it needs to stop. This man does have the tendency to lose control of his temper but he is also kind. He spends most days picking up trash on the streets of our downtown. If you want more of an economy in the downtown you need more depth. You can't rely on business' that make money 2 nights out of the week forever.
. October 05, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Reed, we have one of the biggest, well equiped police forces in the area. Paying for these guys, their fancy bikes, new cars, K-9 units, etc... costs the tax payers a small fortune. The least they can do is walk a beat and stop some of the drug and alcohol related crime downtown and on the north side. Sorry but the vast majority of people like seeing a police presence on the street. If they simply wasted less time and resources on speed traps (i.e. money grabs) and more time and resources on walking patrols, many of these issues would be nipped in the bud. Instead we get one bike cop per shift (sometimes two if it's a First Friday) who basically stand around. These clowns need to walk a beat, including over the low bridge to the north side where open air drug deals are still routine.
. October 05, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Until they bring white collar jobs to town, Bridge Street will never be more than a weekend bar and restaurant stop. Retailers will continue to struggle and we will see more empty store fronts but that is another story for another day....
Michael Hill October 05, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Richard, I can’t agree with your statement that “Phoenixville has biggest, well equipped police forces in the area. Paying for these guys, their fancy bikes, new cars, K-9 units, etc...”. First of all we haven’t had a K-9 unit for almost 2 years. We have to borrow a K-9 unit from neighboring communities. We have one bike that isn’t all that fancy. According to a study done back in 2009 base on population, Phoenixville should have 32 officers. We are currently at 27 and hopefully soon will be back to 28. To create an additional foot/bike patrol office would mean that there would be less coverage for the rest of Phoenixville because they would be limited to a very small area of the downtown. The Police department is hiring the one additional officer so maybe there will be additional foot or bike patrol presence. I think one is warranted but the rest of the town needs to be covered as well. I do agree with your point about the North side it’s getting better but more patrols would do something to decrease the drug sales.
ireozzie October 05, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Reed Reish made the only comment I read here that is not mean spirited and actually makes sense. The man in this article is obviously mentally ill and while his behavior is disturbing he should not have been maced. No matter what some of these commenters say, Phoenixville is a very quiet town and the North Side in particular. This comment about open air drug deals is absolutely racist. There are open air drug deals going on with much more frequency on the south side, west side, east side, and the center of our town. Phoenixville needs businesses that serve local TAXPAYERS and not all the out of town people that only come on weekends. The police in our town should be local residents who want to HELP our citizens and not be so quick to use force especially on someone who is obviously ill and is probably old enough to be his father. I hope this man gets the help he needs and is not sitting in a cell getting even more out of touch with reality.
patrice destefano October 05, 2012 at 05:00 PM
to ireozzie- your comment "The man in this article is obviously mentally ill and while his behavior is disturbing he should not have been maced." Can you explain what the officer should have done? It appears the officer tried to talk to him-the man became aggressive-should he have wrestled and hit him to get him to cooperate? no he maced him to get him under control without causing undue harm to the gentleman or himself-seems harsh but that officer must keep in mind at all times that his life in every encounter is in danger because you never know how a person will react. What if that "crazy man" had a gun and used it, would your symphathy then lie with the officers family. The officer is doing the job he is trained to do.
Ike October 05, 2012 at 05:06 PM
We need better police .Most are ok , but just like the rest of the world , there are a few who need to do a BETTER job. Like one of he bike cops , not the reg.one, but the bigger one . Plus we do have some with mental problems, a think its from the Fellowship place out on west bridge st. They need help , not just drugs..
Phil October 05, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Why is everyone so quick to judge? I know this man as well and he IS a good man who IS mentally ill. To say he is "crazy" or "street trash" is cruel and unfair. His actions were inappropriate and the police did what they had to do to subdue him. He will have to face the consequences of his actions for that behavior as he should. Why do so many lack compassion? Your first reaction is "Look at what he is doing to the reputation of our town!". Did you feel any compassion at all for the fact that the man is mentally ill? How about "Thank goodness no on was hurt!" And the next words are for what a lousy job our police department is doing. Perhaps they could do more or do things differently but they can't be everywhere. Our budget simply doesn't support a police department of that size. I don't disagree that negative press can discourage folks from coming to Phoenixville but you are kidding yourselves if you don't think this stuff happens in LOTS of other places. We all have a choice....we can go or not go. We can be afraid of everything that MIGHT happen or we can go about the business of living our lives. It's everyone's choice to make. In the meantime, perhaps all this energy spent judging everyone and everything could be better channeled into making your community the place you want it to be. GET INVOLVED and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
. October 05, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Please find one reference to race in my comment regarding open air drug sales on the north side? It has nothing to do with race. Facts are facts. I'm not saying people in other areas aren't buying and selling drugs, I'm simply pointing out it is blatant on the North Side of Bridge Street and that is the main road into town from the North. People coming into town and seeing boarded up building and guys standing on the corners isn't a good first impression. A cop walking a beat there would do a lot of good and make the residents feel safer.
. October 05, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I think most people understand that this man needs help. That said, if someone is physically and verbally assualting others the first step is to get him off the street not play arm chair psychologist. Once he is under control and can't hurt others you then get him into a mental health program. My point here was if there was a better police presence in town, maybe this could have been nipped in the bud....before he started "walking around kicking business doors, stole a coffee mug from the café that morning and assaulted a State Farm Insurance Rep". What if that was your wife or daughter he did that too?
. October 05, 2012 at 06:42 PM
27-28 officers is plenty if most of them aren't deployed giving out tickets for petty traffic stuff. They could easily have 3-4 officers working at one time. One walking a beat downtown. One covering the north side and downtown via car and one covering the area from the 7-11 to the high school via car. Instead we have two hiding out to give tickets and one standing around the coffee shop downtown. Also keep in mind that Schuykill and East Pikeland townships also have cops that can back up Phoenixville if needed.
Phil October 05, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Richard, Did you really READ my reply? Did you not see that I said: His actions were inappropriate and the police did what they had to do to subdue him. He will have to face the consequences of his actions for that behavior as he should. Yes perhaps better police presence IN TOWN could have nipped this one in the bud and then someone else would be complaining because something happened somewhere else in Phoenixville. I am thankful no one was seriously hurt and that they were able to subdue him before any more damage could be done. I think you missed my point though. Instead of pointing out all the flaws of the police department and our town, what are YOU doing to make a difference? Or do you prefer to simply point out all the shortcomings? You know the old saying "If you don't vote, you can't complain"? Well folks, if you want to see a change, then get involved and help make it happen. I think you'll find things aren't quite as simple to control as you think they are.
. October 05, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Phil, when I am issued a badge and gun and start getting paid to patrol the town, I'll do that. Until then I have every right to express my opinion about what people paid with our tax dollars do (or don't do). I my opinion, the cops in Phoenixville are generally lazy and seem to want to hide out in their cars off Starr Street and 23 to give people BS tickets than actually prevent crime downtown by maintaining a strong presence there. Peace out. Have a nice weekend.
Steve Powers October 06, 2012 at 03:41 AM
The police at times do sit on my street to get people on Starr st. They should do that at Bridge and Nutt rds. So many people turn when they do not have the light. Just over half of the north side is nice, but that problem area,roughly 5 blocks worth around High and Dayton sts. Are a problem. Pressure on homeowners, slumlords, and residents is the way to change it. This is how those outside this town drive through and view our town.
James Smith October 06, 2012 at 04:49 AM
I just heard what appeared to be two gunshots in quick succession. Good night all.
CC October 06, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Speaking of the North Side, does anyone know what is going on in the area behind the scrap yard? It looks like they are clearing a lot of land. I thought I had heard that they were putting in a trail (?), but there is such a lard piece of land cleared that we are wondering if a development is going in.
Kristin Pesnell October 06, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Most of the north side is nice. Granted there is a small rough patch, but I am tired of the north side getting a bad wrap (especially High St.). A lot of middle class and even upper middle class families buy homes on the North side to fix up and live in. My husband and I bought our first home hear on High St. just 4 years ago. We have put a lot into our house and it's now worth $100,000 more than we paid for it (it was just appraised last month). A lot is changing around here. As far as all the incidences in town, that kind of stuff happens everywhere. The only reason we all know about it is because Patch keeps posting every little thing that happens and in many cases I think some things are blown out of proportion. I mean really, do we need to report things like some guy stealing blueberries - is that real news. Patch not only posts stories about crime, but it showcases crime to get you to read Patch. Did you ever notice that most of the emails you get from Patch with the current news bates you with crime stories. They know people just can't resist clicking the link to find out what happened. Not only does Patch tend to sensationalize it, but people tend to overreact to it - these two things are more likely to affect reputation and business than the crime itself.
harry finster October 06, 2012 at 10:50 PM
why dont you just put bars around phoenixville and then you wouldnt have to transport the local inhabitants to jail ,save time and money
Kim October 10, 2012 at 05:06 AM
harry, its disrespectful for you to say something that generalizes the idea that everyone in phoenixville is a criminal. next time, save your time and energy and DONT post ignorant comments =)
Tom Sunnergren (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Update: Mills, allegedly, assaulted an officer while in custody. http://phoenixville.patch.com/articles/police-after-bridge-street-meltdown-man-assaulted-cops-in-custody
birdfan October 11, 2012 at 08:10 PM
why do we have a store down town right on bridge near steel city that sells and has "Water pipes" displyed in their front window. Isnt that considered drug paraphanlia. ???????????
harry finster October 11, 2012 at 08:24 PM
because you have demand for them by the locals
Goddess October 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Richard H., open air drug deals are going on by the Phoenixville Post Office too.
Goddess October 27, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Steve Powers, I too see people turn left from Nutt Road to West Bridge Street when the light goes green for Nutt Road. People look at the wrong light. Other people honk at them and they always appear clueless, still not knowing they turned left illegally. It's scary when you're on the sidewalk at that intersection. I'm not sure if signage could help. Pedestrians do something almost equally as dangerous there, they jay-walk across Nutt Road when it is not clear to walk (either towards or away from Walgreens). I'm not sure if they think the walk cycle missed them or if they just prefer to jay-walk. It is a long light cycle. Another problem is the sensor where 4th Avenue meets Lincoln Avenue by the old Mimo's. If cars sit too far back and not right up to the intersection, the sensor doesn't notice them. They think the light isn't working and drive through the red light, not realizing if they pulled up they would trip the sensor.


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