Police: Dad attacked daycare owner after he was denied kids

RONAN — A non-custodial father who allegedly beat a Ronan woman last week with his fists when she refused to allow him to take his children from her daycare has been arrested in Washington state.

Francis Joseph Jackson, 31, was taken into custody in Usk, Washington, on the Kalispell Indian Reservation, Monday evening.

His girlfriend, who allegedly joined in the assault and beat the daycare owner in the face with a shovel, remains at large.

The daycare owner was identified on a gofundme page as Martha McClure of Ronan.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said that in addition to Jackson not having legal custody of the children, the daycare owner believed Jackson and the woman to be intoxicated, and refused to allow them to take Jackson’s children.

The gofundme page reported that McClure had surgery on an eye on Monday “and has a long road of healing ahead of her.”

“She is not only a loving, caring and very supportive mother but loves every child that is in her care as one of her own,” said the page, which seeks contributions to help McClure with “medical costs, lost wages, counseling, or anything she may need at this time.”

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Bell said the victim was trying to escort Jackson from the day care, and “at some point the male struck her, and the female assaulted her with a shovel.”

The sheriff did not know if other children witnessed the alleged assault. The suspects had fled before law enforcement arrived.

Arlen Auld, a former police officer with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes who now works for the Kalispell Tribe of Indians’ Public Safety Department in Usk, helped take Jackson into custody.

“We were getting tips on where the male was, and contacted their office,” Bell said. “An officer who used to work here helped track him down. He was getting tips as well, and got a search warrant.”

Bell said Jackson was arrested on charges that include assault, aggravated burglary and custodial interference. He will be extradited to Lake County.

“A lot of people don’t realize if you enter an occupied structure and commit any crime, you can be charged with burglary,” Bell said. It becomes aggravated burglary, Bell said, because a weapon – the shovel – was allegedly used during the assault.

The sheriff said he assumed Jackson’s children remained in the care of the legal custodian who had dropped them off at McClure’s daycare that day, but that would be a decision involving Child Protective Services.