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Douglas County law enforcement dubs suspect in Omaha assault a ‘frequent flier’

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Bruce McGrone is what those in law enforcement would call a frequent flier.

He’s 56, and he’s been in the Douglas County Jail dozens of times. And that’s where he is again tonight.

This time, he’s accused of assaulting a nurse at CHI Health, allegedly kneeing her in the face while she tried to give him a CT scan after he reportedly started a fight at the homeless shelter.

“I fought a full-grown man for a good five, 10 minutes because I told him to make his bed,” said Stacie Wilkins, a Douglas County Corrections officer. “It’s insane.”

In 2018, an inmate jumped Wilkins while she was working. He hit her in the head and strangled her, and she thought she might die. For that, Bruce McGrone received three years in prison.

This time, investigators say, he took aim not a corrections officer, but a nurse.

“He’s with people who are trying to help him at the hospital, and he assaults that person,” said Don Kleine, Douglas County attorney.

In court Thursday afternoon, McGrone tried to argue his case. But the county judge shut him down, explaining that this was an arraignment and not the time to launch a defense.

Clearly, McGrone knows how the system operates. He’s 56 years old and has had 408 contacts with law enforcement. On average, every year, police have looked into him 11 times because of suspected criminal activity.

“He doesn’t get it, obviously,” Kleine said.

Even when he is out, McGrone can’t follow the rules: Skipping required treatment centers for substance abuse. Letting his ankle bracelet batter die — repeatedly.

It’s possible this felony might be the final straw. The county attorney is still researching his background, but this may be a case of “habitual criminal,” which, if McGrone is convicted of assaulting the nurse, the mandatory minimum is 10 years in prison.

“We’re also looking to see if there’s anything else we can do to keep him from hurting anyone else,” Kleine said.

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