SALEM — A 66-year-old Salem man had to be taken to the hospital after he was shoved to the ground by a man he’d just verbally confronted about urinating on his neighbor’s home, police say.

And when Robert McCarthy, 24, of Lynn was questioned by police about the confrontation, they say he boasted that he thought it was “kind of romantic the way I handled my business and protected my girl against that guy.”

While Larry Blais was recuperating from back injuries that have forced him to miss work and left him unable to get out of bed yesterday, McCarthy was making a court appearance to answer to a charge of assault and battery on a person over 60.

Police say it started when Blais returned home to his apartment near the corner of Essex and Forrester streets just before 1 a.m. Sunday and noticed a man urinating against his neighbor’s house.

“This has happened too many times,” he said, describing how hard-partying college students have used the neighborhood as a urinal, leaving stains and stench, especially on hot days.

Blais suggested that there were “better places to pee.” McCarthy responded with an expletive and continued urinating, according to a police report.

Blais took out an envelope, the only paper he had handy, and started writing down the license plate number of the 2003 Ford Explorer that belongs to McCarthy’s girlfriend, who was seated at the wheel. McCarthy’s girlfriend noticed and called over to McCarthy, according to police and Blais.

McCarthy tried to grab the envelope from him, Blais said. What McCarthy didn’t know was that it contained Blais’ rent money. He wasn’t about to give it up.

Blais said McCarthy shoved him twice, the second shove sending him to the ground. Still, “I had a death grip on that envelope,” he recalled.

Witnesses who heard the confrontation found the older man on the ground, moaning in pain, police said. Someone called 911. And while Blais had managed to get just four numbers off the plate, another neighbor had already written down the entire plate number because the SUV had been parked illegally.

Police caught up with the Explorer downtown and stopped it.

McCarthy’s girlfriend said the couple had been at a friend’s home, drinking.

McCarthy acknowledged that there had been a confrontation.

Asked if he’d had physical contact with the man, McCarthy said he’d simply “guided” the man to the ground.

When the officer suggested that the better course would have been to walk away, McCarthy allegedly claimed he was protecting his girlfriend.

Blais spent about nine hours at the Salem Hospital emergency room Sunday morning, then had to return yesterday when he was in so much pain he couldn’t get out of bed. The impact of being shoved to the ground aggravated some pre-existing back problems and left deep bruises, he said.

McCarthy, who is free on $2,500 bail, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court, where a judge ordered him to have no contact with the victim while the case is pending.

“I didn’t want a confrontation,” Blais said yesterday. “I just want people to act like human beings.”

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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