63.4 F

Sparks firefighter claims self defense in encounter with 84-year-old woman who ended up hospitalized


Sparks Firefighter Timothy Egan and the City of Sparks are seeking to have a civil case filed against Egan dismissed.

A video of an encounter between Egan and 84-year-old Maureen Hvegholm, who was feeding cats in a Sparks alleyway last year, has gone viral. The case, and video, have also made international headlines.

Hvegholm was hospitalized after Egan shoved her, and she was knocked to the ground face down. Hvegholm had been trying to feed stray cats.

Egan denies leg-sweep

Egan, through attorneys paid for by the City of Sparks, denied leg sweeping Hvegholm. He also said she assaulted him.

“He was in a leg brace that prevented him from moving backwards or laterally,” Egan’s attorneys wrote in a motion to dismiss the case. “Firefighter Egan walked to the dumpster to dispose of some trash. While he was there, he picked up a box that was laying on the ground. Plaintiff began screaming at him as he did so and threw what seemed to be more trash at his feet. 

“When he awkwardly bent over to pick up that trash, Plaintiff attacked … Egan from behind with what he believes to be a full metal container of cat food. When [he] turned around after the first assault, Plaintiff threw water and dried cat food in his face, temporarily blinding him, while swinging an unknown blunt object that … Egan could barely perceive. He then pushed her away to stop the attack, and she fell.”

Egan’s statement, however, contradicts a Washoe County Sheriff’s Office report of the incident.

“Eagan [sic] then stepped toward Hvegholm and performed a takedown technique similar to a ‘reap throw’ which forced Hvegholm to the ground,” Sgt. Joshua Jenkins wrote. He also declined criminal charges against either party in part because “each appeared ‘flippant’ towards the other and voluntarily placed themselves in a position close to the other.”

Hvegholm’s attorney also shot back at Egan’s attorney’s leg-sweep denial with a Marx Brothers quote: “Well, who ya gonna believe, me, or your own eyes?”

“Egan initiated the dispute with Ms. Hvegholm by engaging with her when she was feeding cats in the public alley which she shares with the Sparks Fire Department,” her attorney wrote. “He simply could have left Hvegholm be; and … Egan initiated the physical altercation with Hvegholm by trying to grab the cat food from her hands.”

Sparks alleges Hvegholm made threats

Sparks Fire has also provided an exhibit in Egan’s defense that claims Hvegholm threatened Sparks firefighters. They allege Hvegholm “has a history of harassing and threatening City of Sparks firefighters.”

“This evening was another confrontation with the cat lady during a change in staffing,” a firefighter wrote in an email in early 2022. “She threatened to shoot a firefighter in the face again. Police case # 221239. Be mindful of your surroundings when walking through the alley taking out the trash.”

Egan didn’t get that memo because he was only at the Sparks Fire station in December, when the incident occurred, because, his attorneys claim, he was on light duty.

Hevgholm’s supporters tell a different story.

She lives in Section 8 housing – “that allows her to have her independence” – and helps care for feral cats and at least one individual nearby who is experiencing homelessness.

“She was a beautiful vibrant woman who was beaten down over the years by the enormous stress of single-handedly providing for 4 kids,” the “Justice for Maureen” website states. “It was a hard life. Yet we, her children, never went without basic needs because of this woman. This woman the firemen of Sparks Fire Station No. 1 call the crazy cat lady. She has a name. It’s Maureen.”

Fundraiser established

Hvegholm now has a GoFundMe fundraiser and a website requesting “Justice for Maureen.”

Hvegholm is seeking a jury trial in the case.

Disclosure: Hvegholm’s attorney Luke Busby also represents This Is Reno in two public records cases against the City of Reno. He would not comment on this article.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.