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News-Journal Pounds 71-Year-Old Palm Coast Man’s Door Over $3.97 Bill; Gun and Cop Follow

| January 11, 2011

You can’t blame Robert Leard for being a little edgy when it comes to strangers on his property. Not long ago neighbors–who’ve since left–were being noisy and shooting at his fence with a pellet gun. Leard has nothing against pellet guns. He owns one. But when he shoots it he makes sure not to cause aggravating pinging or point it where it might hurt someone. He went to talk to the neighbors. They set their pit bull loose, though Leard was still in his car. He slammed the brake when the dog ran in front of his car. One of the neighbors sucker-punched him in the eye through the car window. Another threw a beer can at him. Leard pressed charges and one of the two got probation, Leard says.

Leard is 71. He’s had several heart attacks and is on disability. He doesn’t like surprises. So he’s been suspicious of people knocking at his door out of the blue. Especially at night.

You can’t blame the Daytona Beach News-Journal for desperately knocking on people’s doors, either. The paper has been hemorrhaging readers and subscribers–a 10 percent drop just in the last six months–and what subscribers are dumping the paper are refusing to renew despite relentless phone pursuits, week-long freebies to their ex’s and even that no-no with jilted ex’s: in-person visits.

But when Robert Leard and the News-Journal last collided, it wasn’t pretty.

Jeffrey Chamberlain is a 56-year-old subscription salesman with the paper. At 6:45 p.m. last Saturday, he went to Leard’s door on Ranston Place in Palm Coast and knocked. “He didn’t knock. He pounded,” Leard said. There was a doorbell. He didn’t use it. The pounding frightened both Robert and his wife Caroline, who immediately went to the bedroom to retrieve a gun. (They each have a concealed weapon permit.) Robert went to the door.

“I yelled, ‘who are you?'” Robert recalled Tuesday. His wife was well behind him, with the gun.

“I’m from the News-Journal. You owe $3.97,” Chamberlain replied. A police report has Chamberlain first asking Leard if he was interested in renewing his subscription, which the Leards dropped over two months ago. Robert doesn’t recall hearing that. Just the part about what he supposedly owed. He’d never received a bill, never got a call from the paper letting him know someone would be by. It was pitch black, he says. “I don’t know who you are,” he hollered to Chamberlain, “get the hell away from my door.”

Chamberlain turned and walked away from the house. As he was walking back to his vehicle, according to Chamberlain’s version of events related in the the police report, Leard opened his front door and said, “you’re lucky I don’t shoot you.”

Leard says he said nothing of the sort. “I hollered at him, I said, you know, beating on somebody’s door at 6 or 7 at night is a good way to get shot.” Leard said he never threatened Chamberlain.

Chamberlain went back to his vehicle, said he’d call the cops, moved his vehicle a small distance and waited. A neighbor told police that the two men asked each other who would be calling the police first. “He sits out in front of my house for 40 minutes with his headlights on,” Leard said. “If somebody threatens you, are you going to hang around? I’d leave, wouldn’t you? The guy’s a jerk, a total idiot, to cause all that trouble over $3.97. We never even received a bill.” (Chamberlain did not return a call about the incident.)

Leard told police he’d never had an unpaid bill and that it was unprofessional and dangerous of the paper to send people knocking at residents’ doors at night.

“I don’t need aggravation like this guy over here,” Leard said.

The sheriff’s deputy who responded to the call took statements from both men, but no charges were pressed either way. “Not enough evidence to pursue,” the deputy concluded.

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18 Responses for “News-Journal Pounds 71-Year-Old Palm Coast Man’s Door Over $3.97 Bill; Gun and Cop Follow”

  1. DLF says:

    Again another example of Flagler Live having sour grapes for the NJ. If this would have been any other news media trying to collect a past due bill we would not be reading about it. The whole story sounds a little strange to me. I wonder what the facts are We get very little of the other side of the story. Looks like a rush to judgement to me and you know what Obama said about that, example; the police case and the colege professor later refer to as the beer meeting in the Rose Garden and of course the shooting at Fort Hood..

  2. Rob Creal says:

    I had a similar experience with Mr. Chamberlain. The first time he came to my house he tried to get me to renew my subscription to the NJ. When I said I was not interested, he said I owed a small amount for papers that I had received. I told him that the NJ had called me and I told them I was not interested in renewing. They were going to send a final bill. About 2 weeks later he came to the house again in the early evening and said that I owed the NJ some money. I told him that I still had not received a final billing from them. A couple of days ago I finally received the bill. The NJ is going to loose more subscribers with Mr. Chamberlain representing them.

  3. TAZ says:

    DLF, all police reports are public records. Go to the Sheriff’s office and ask for it.

  4. Chuck says:

    I had a similar strange experience. I had purchased a NJ subscription for a friend as a gift. Not once did the NJ ask me to renew, but they did show up at my gift recipients house demanding money for the extra copies they sent him AFTER his subscription had expired. My friend told him that the NJ sends arrears copies as a courtesy, and he is not required to pay for them. The guy never came back.

    All said, that’s a very strange way to do business and my friend, nor I, never renewed due to this strange ordeal. And it’s too bad, I enjoyed the paper very much.

  5. What? says:

    Why would anyone today send a person out to collect $3.97? That is wasting time, money, and gas. I wouldn’t appreciate someone showing up at dark either. If someone yelled they are there to collect a past due amount I wouldn’t believe them. How many companies now days do that? (none). Door to door sales are even the thing of the past.

  6. TAZ says:

    It looks like the News Journal has sour grapes for customers who no longer want their services.

  7. PC MAN says:

    It’s kind of amusing when a putz like DLF uses any excuse to take a shot at Pres Obama.

  8. DLF says:

    PC Man just reminding everyone one what our President said and it was reported on Flagler Live. Don’t say I took a shot at Obama, that was not liberal correct, you cannot use shot, in the same sentenance when talking about Obama.. I think if you research the cases made reference to you will see that Obama did in fact say what I said

  9. DJW says:

    I canceled my NJ subscription about 18 months ago. At the time I did so, I was told by the NJ rep that I would receive a final bill for a small amount ($3.97 actually sounds about right) even though I had canceled just at my “paid through date” because the NJ computers were set up for automatic renewals; and that I could just ignore this final bill. I did receive such final bill and then a couple of past due notices when I did as the rep said and ignored it, which I had no problem doing since I had legitimately canceled at or before my “paid through date”. After all, it wasn’t my fault their computer is programmed the way it is. So…I’m wondering if Mr. Leard and this whole ugly incident is just another example/victim of the same computer programming? Sounds like it to me. BTW…Mr. Leard and anyone else who cancels should be prepared to now be hounded with incessant phone calls-at least once, frequently twice a day, including weekends- from 386-681-2700, which is the NJ attempting to get them to re-subscribe. Unfortunately, the “do-not-call” law protects them because of the past business relationship. I have no ill will toward the NJ. It’s a shame that any business has to stoop to this.

  10. NortonSmitty says:

    DLF, Congratulations! Not too many people could be creative enough to tie a 56 year old down and out newsboys’ attempt to collect gas money to the current leader of the free world. You are wasting a gift writing here. You should send your resume to Fox immediately!

    Not to nitpick, but you didn’t actually quote anything that Obama actually said. Just the right wing talking point version of that incident that you’ve had driven into your head for so long it’s kinda like shorthand. You assume that everyone knows the story if not the actual facts. Don’t forget to put that in your resume, they LOVE that at Fox!

  11. Liana G says:

    Since most of our media outlets are controlled by large monolopies, I try to shy away when I can. It’s my little miniscule way of protesting these oversize monoplies, but I guess when everyone does their little miniscule part then the impact is large.

    I prefer independent new’s thats why I like FlaglerLive, Mojo, WJCT/WMFE/NPR, Link tv, Freespeech tv, and similar types; same way I prefer those little mom and pop operations/businesses. My way of ‘sticking it to them’ and supporting small business to boot.

  12. J.J. Graham says:

    Pierre getting let go at the NJ. was the best thing that happened to you and great for us. Please continue taking shots at them. It’s funny. I’m tired of being held up in front of CVS by their rep, it’s annoying.

  13. Inmate's Wife says:

    Pretty sure this is the same guy who scared the heck out of us showing up at our house this past fall several times too. We weren’t answering the door to anyone we didn’t recognize due to my husband’s legal issues and he just looked creepy, which given the situation made us very nervous. Finally we determined he was a news-journal salesman trying to get us to resubscribe (we’d cancelled earlier in the year). The whole thing was very unsettling – he came at very odd times and sat outside. We actually thought he might be a process server or something his behavior was so persistent.

  14. justaperson says:

    The newsjournal isnt the only one who does this. Brighthouse also sends someone to your door to collect payment if you’re late. This is ultimately why i cancelled my subscription to their services.

    Summer of 2010, twice a man showed up at my house after 8p.m. requesting payment. I admit my error in making my payment late however i had been a brighthouse customer since 2004 and had always made good on my bills with them.

  15. Inmate's Wife says:

    We didn’t even owe money when the guy showed up at our door. Just simply trying to get us back as subscribers. A pretty off-putting way to do it.

  16. patricia ferguson says:

    Mr. Leard is not the best neighbor to have. He has called animal control on me because of my dogs barking.The ordinance is twenty minutes of straight uninterrupted barking. My Great Danes are 9 years old and can’t bark that long. They are inside the house all day and night. They barked when we were getting our cars broken into and tried to get in the house when my daughter was home alone and when there was a bear standing at the fence. I am not allowed to play with my dogs because he starts yelling and then calls animal control. The incident where the neighbors set their pit bull on him is a darn right lie. Soku was a pit but he was the gentlest dog you ever saw. Mr. Laird started the altercation and he hit the dog with his car. Eyewitness account of this incident because my son and daughter watched the whole thing. He sent me a letter telling me he wants peace and quiet in his castle. My answer is to move to a senior citizen complex and not a residental neighborhood where people enjoy their lives by having dogs, playing music , and making noise within the hours allowed.

  17. ROBERT LEARD says:

    MRS. FERGUSON IS STILL CONFUSED, AS I AM NOT THE ONE THAT WENT TO JAIL, NOR AM I THE ONE WHO PAID RESTITUTION. THERE IS NO TIME LIMIT ON HOW LONG A DOG OR DOGS CAN DISTURB THE PEACE, ALL NIGHT LONG.
    THERE IS A RESTRICTION ON AMOUNT OF DOGS IN ONE HOUSEHOLD WHICH IS 3, AND SHE HAS TO MANY. SHE HAS 3 GREAT DANES AND SMALL YAPPING DOGS. I AM NOT THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAS CALLED ANIMAL CONTROL FOR THIS.
    THE PROBLEM WITH THESE KIND OF DOG OWNERS IS THEY DONOT WANT TO GET ALONG, THEY ARE ALWAYS RIGHT.
    THIS IS THE PROBLEM OF THE WORLD. JUST TRY TO LIVE IN HARMONY. NEIGHBORS USE TO SAY I WILL CORRECT IT NOT I AM RIGHT SO EAT IT.

  18. ROBERT LEARD says:

    WHERE WAS YOUR DAUGHTER IN COURT.

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