Stephen Armbruster & Robert McManus get taste of their own bear repellent in frat attack

Another story that got lost in the Latest Word holiday-week shuffle: The only-in-Boulder tale of Stephen Armbruster and Robert McManus, who allegedly tried to get even for a fraternity prank with the use of bear-approved pepper spray.

The incident caused quite a bit of blowback for Armbruster and McManus -- in more ways than one.

According to 9News, Armbruster and McManus, both 21, are members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, which had displayed red, white and blue letters designating their Boulder house to commemorate the Fourth of July -- at least until the Greek "S" was swiped early on Independence Day. That's un-American! Or un-Greek! Or un-something! And so, the Boulder Police blotter contends, the pair salved their psychic wounds by spending the day drinking, after which they decided to get even through the use of bear repellent -- basically pepper spray powerful enough to disable a grizzly bent on rampaging mayhem.

The pair subsequently climbed aboard Armbruster's scooter and headed to a residence on the 900 block of 17th next to the house of a rival frat, Zeta Beta Tau, and sprayed the repellent inside it. The Boulder Daily Camera quotes McManus as saying they did so in the belief that the house was unoccupied. But it turns out a young woman was inside, watching TV -- until, that is, she was blinded and otherwise incapacitated by fumes.

Meanwhile, at Zeta Beta Tau, a party as raging, as they tend to do at frat houses -- so Armbruster and McManus are said to have sprayed the repellent in the direction of the celebrants congregated on the lawn. And it worked like gangbusters. The Camera points out that cops driving past the house at around 8:30 p.m. on the 4th discovered between ten and fifteen people in varying degrees of agony.

Armbruster and McManus soon felt their pain -- and some additional distress as well. The Boulder Police maintain that as the two were trying to make their getaway, the wind blew the repellent into their faces, too, causing them to wreck their scooter.

The pair were arrested on suspicion of multiple second-degree assaults, plus first-degree burglary -- felonies all. They're due in court this very day to formally learn what potential punishment they face.

Beyond Boulder infamy, that is. Here's the 9News report about the incident.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Robert Young, Mark Rubinson accused of reenacting Weekend at Bernie's with pal's corpse."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts