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Deputy Is Beaten in Schoolyard

Crime: Officer remains hospitalized after Monrovia incident in which man was arrested. Victim joined department after rescuing actress Theresa Saldana from a stabbing attack in 1982.

March 22, 1996|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jeffrey Fenn--the former deliveryman whose acclaim for rescuing actress Theresa Saldana from a stabbing attack led to a new career as a sheriff's deputy--remained hospitalized Thursday after he was beaten by the stepfather of a girl who had just assaulted Fenn's son, police said.

Fenn suffered lost teeth, bruised ribs and a concussion Wednesday afternoon when he was attacked by Jonathan David Covington on the grounds of Santa Fe Intermediate School in Monrovia, investigators said. Covington, 27, of Altadena, was arrested and booked on suspicion of felony battery. His bail was set at $50,000.

According to police, Fenn, 40, who is assigned to the Temple City Sheriff's Station, was off duty when he went to the school about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday to pick up his son, who is a student there. Officers said that when Fenn saw his son being assaulted by Covington's daughter, Fenn took the girl to the principal's office.

When Fenn returned to the playground, he was confronted by Covington, who had been told what had happened, said Monrovia Police Lt. Terry Dochnahl. Fenn identified himself as a sheriff's deputy and asked Covington to go with him to the school office, Dochnahl said.

Ignoring Fenn's request, Covington kicked and hit Fenn, officers said. They said the attack continued as Fenn attempted to defend himself and retreated to the office. School personnel called police, who placed Covington under arrest. Fenn was taken to an undisclosed hospital.

Diane Corwin, an attorney for Covington's family, disputed the police account, saying that Covington was angered because Fenn had hurled a racial slur at his daughter and had grabbed her harshly as he took her to the office. Corwin said Covington told her that Fenn escalated the dispute and threw the first punch.

Fenn won national renown in 1982 when, working as a 26-year-old Sparkletts deliveryman, he risked his life to wrestle a knife away from an obsessed Scottish drifter, Arthur R. Jackson, who had stabbed Saldana 10 times.

Fenn accepted a Carnegie Medal for heroism and became a sheriff's deputy after the stabbing incident. Saldana was on hand to give him a kiss when he graduated from the Sheriff's Academy.

Jackson, who was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to the maximum term of 12 years in state prison, became eligible for parole in 1990, but his eligibility was suspended and he was sentenced to an additional 5 1/2 years when he was convicted of sending threatening letters to Saldana from Vacaville State Prison.

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