Mammoth Hot Springs

Elk dot the lawn outside the Mammoth Hotel as the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs rise in the distance. Authorities say a woman staying near the hot springs was attacked by a man in a restroom. 

A man assaulted a female tourist in a Yellowstone National Park bathroom and sprayed the woman’s boyfriend with bear mace when he came to her aid, federal authorities allege in court documents.

Prosecutors charged Jackson Coombs, 29, on July 19 with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.

Court documents state the woman, who works as a doctor, and her boyfriend were staying in cabins last week near Mammoth Hot Springs when they went to use the community bathrooms.

The couple split up the night of July 18 and used the bathrooms corresponding to their genders. When the woman entered the bathroom, she saw one stall was occupied by a person facing the toilet, rather than the stall door, the documents state she told investigators.

The woman entered a stall and when she went to leave, a person began banging on the stall door, the documents state. The door gave way to reveal Coombs, with toilet paper wrapped around his neck and lower face, the woman told investigators.

Coombs began punching the woman in the face and grabbed her by the jaw, the documents state. The woman, who thought Coombs would kill her, began screaming, she told investigators.

The woman’s boyfriend, who was then walking away from the men’s room, heard the screaming and knocked on the bathroom door, the documents state he told investigators.

The screaming continued, so he entered the bathroom where he saw Coombs assaulting his girlfriend, according to the documents.

Coombs turned his attention to the man, who sustained bites from Coombs as he tried to defend himself, the documents state. The man took Coombs to the ground.

Once Coombs was on the ground, he pulled out bear spray and tried to target the couple with it, the documents allege. Coombs began spraying, affecting all three people in the bathroom, before the man knocked the spray can out of Coombs’ hand, according to the documents.

The man then told the woman to call 911. She left the bathroom while the two men continued to fight, the documents state.

The woman encountered another man outside the bathroom, who offered to help, the documents state. The second man entered the bathroom and helped the boyfriend restrain Coombs while they waited for authorities to arrive.

A law enforcement officer who responded to the scene noted Coombs was wearing large metal rings on his fingers.

The woman suffered “significant bruising, swelling and abrasions to her head and face,” the documents state. She also self-reported concussion symptoms.

The Star-Tribune attempted to contact Coombs’ attorney after business hours Thursday by phone and email but he did not respond before the newspaper’s publishing deadline. Coombs told officers twice that he “just went into the wrong bathroom,” the documents state.

Coombs waived a preliminary hearing on Tuesday and a judge ordered him held without bond, according to court documents.

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Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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