FREELAND -- After a strange string of events Sunday, a Freeland councilman who is also running for mayor is facing a slew of charges.
Police said there had been ongoing issues with John Budda and it all came to a head over the weekend.
It all started when police say Budda went up to a couple walking their dog. He allegedly asked if the pet would bite a postal worker. Police said although Budda has been a retired postal worker for about 15 years, Budda was wearing a postman's jacket at the time of the incident.
A witness spoke to Newswatch 16 but did not want to be identified in our report.
"He came up to me very quickly, and it kind of scared me because I wasn't sure how my dog was going to react," she said.
Then, police said Budda went down Front Street in Freeland and stopped traffic. Police said Budda was asking drivers if anyone knew who Larry was, when one person said no, Budda threw a lit cigarette at him.
"I was shocked. I was surprised. I did want to approach him and say, 'What are you doing?' But my husband said, 'Stop, he doesn't look very stable,'" the witness said.
Police also said Budda stopped at Woods Ice Cream stand. He asked a 6-year-old boy to shake his hand and then he kissed the boy directly on the lips. His parents told police that they are not related.
Witnesses said it was just shocking to see all of this, especially considering that Budda was a well-liked community member.
"He needs help and hopefully the parents can see that. I'm sure he wasn't meaning to hurt anybody. He does need help," the witness said.
After that, police said Budda went up to a group of about 30-40 parents and kids playing basketball at a nearby park, stole their ball, and made a lewd gesture at them. He then tried to get into another person's SUV, put the ball inside, and said, "Is this your car?"
Police said the group of parents followed Budda out of the park.
Then, Budda allegedly stole a gallon of milk away from a woman unloading her groceries. According to the criminal complaint, the woman said to Budda, who is known as "Spiderman" in the community, "Spider, get back here with my milk!" Budda ignored her and walked away.
Budda was charged with theft from a motor vehicle, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, simple assault, three counts of harassment, and four counts of disorderly conduct.
Residents said it was completely out of character for the John Budda they knew. They said he was an EMT for 40 years at the Freeland Northside Community Ambulance. He was also enlisted in the service.
Newswatch 16 called the Freeland town solicitor for a comment. He did not return our call.
Police do not suspect Budda was under the influence of any drugs at the time. Officials say he is currently being evaluated.