Ex-state fire captain’s French Quarter troubles started early, trial shows _lowres

File photo provided by State Fire Marshall - 'Buddy' and handler Richard Abbott, in 2014, stand beside the 'Spirit of Louisiana,' one of two trucks donated by Louisiana to New York City in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A Louisiana state fire captain was arrested in New Orleans on Saturday and accused of pistol-whipping a French Quarter neighbor, apparently in a dispute over the captain’s bomb-sniffing dog.

Wearing a “South Park” T-shirt, Capt. Richard Abbott, of the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office, struck the neighbor while standing in the 400 block of Burgundy Street about 8:35 p.m., police said. He then tucked his loaded .357-caliber revolver into the rear pocket of his tan shorts and stepped inside the Three Legged Dog bar at Burgundy and Conti streets, a police report says.

Abbott, 47, who lives nearby in the 1000 block of Conti Street, was booked on counts of aggravated battery and possession of a firearm inside an alcoholic beverage outlet.

But a magistrate commissioner, Robert Blackburn, found no probable cause for his arrest and released him Sunday morning without bail. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office could still bring charges against Abbott after reviewing the evidence.

Abbott got into an argument outside the bar, “produced a black revolver handgun and struck the victim several times to the top of the head, causing a small laceration,” the police report says.

Police found Abbott inside the bar. He “appeared intoxicated and informed the officers he had been drinking,” says the report, which lists Abbott’s occupation only as “professional.”

The 37-year-old victim refused a trip to the hospital after the scuffle. Reached by phone, he declined to talk about the incident, saying he wanted first to contact an attorney. He lives in the same block of Conti Street as Abbott.

Fire Marshal’s Office Deputy Chief Brant Thompson declined to provide details of the incident but confirmed it arose over a dispute concerning Abbott’s dog, Crash, a black Labrador retriever trained to find explosives.

Thompson said Abbott has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation “to determine if in fact there were any policy violations.”

Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said Abbott had recently moved to New Orleans and was off-duty at the time of the incident. The revolver was Abbott’s personal firearm, he said.

Browning said the internal investigation is being handled by the State Police.

“Certainly that whole thing as it was told to me was very concerning,” he said. “We would not tolerate any type of the behavior that was alleged.”

Abbott did not return a message seeking comment.

According to a news release from the Police Department, the victim told police that he was outside the bar with friends when Abbott asked him about the whereabouts of Crash.

“The victim stated he told Abbott that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Abbott then produced a revolver and struck the victim several times in the head” before entering the bar, the release said.

The release said the victim received three lacerations to the back of his head.

Several witnesses identified Abbott.

Abbott, a 13-year veteran, was promoted to captain within the past year. In December, his trusty K-9, Buddy, a 110-pound Labrador retriever, retired after 12 years of service, the longest-serving detection dog in the state Fire Marshal’s Office history. Hip problems and other health factors weighed in Buddy’s retirement.

Crash has been temporarily placed with another handler, Thompson said.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.