Businessman tackled, arrested by police

(UPDATED: Tuesday 7 p.m.) Police surrounded the home of Joe Fairbairn at 5:25 p.m. Tuesday after a 911 call indicated that he was involved in a domestic violence situation and made a comment about getting a gun.
Becky Vargo
May 28, 2014


That's when the man's two sons got out of the house, said Sgt. Curt Theune of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department.

While emergency officials shut down the area near 16187 Suffolk, neighbors saw police with guns drawn surrounding the house.

Dispatchers reported that they'd contacted Fairbairn on the phone, and were attempting to build a rapport with him when he hung up the phone at 5:29 p.m. When he walked out of the three-story white home, police tackled him as he tried to go back inside, neighbors said.

"He wanted to get something, but we weren't going to let him go back inside," Theune said.

Police had him in custody at 5:34 p.m. and interviewed a young man - identified as his son in police radio traffic - outside the home. The young man described to police a lot of scuffling, and appeared to have suffered bruises and minor cuts.

Theune did not confirm an actual physical fight.

The sergeant confirmed that he removed one handgun and three shotguns from the home.

Neighbor Hilary Grant said she just got home from work and heard yelling coming from the house. Her husband was working in the yard.

"There were some obsenities. It got our attention," she said.

The sons came out of their house and just stood there, she said. Police surrounded the house and Fairbairn came out a short time later, carrying  his cell phone.

Fairbairn bought the former Rosebud Bar & Grill in downtown Grand Haven and has been renovating it into Joe's Wooden Nickel.

Fairbairn grew up in Grand Rapids and spent a lot of time at the Rosebud when he boated in Grand Haven with his parents. He most recently lived in Chicago and worked in Internet sales for a telephone book company, then launched two Internet advertising businesses.

Fairbairn moved to Ferrysburg in 2010.

Police said the father would be detained on felonious/aggravated assault, a felony charge.

Ottawa County Sheriff's deputies and Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officers assisted at the scene.

The incident remains under investigation.



I think we need to wait for the rest of the story:

1. Who made the 911 call?

2. Who stated he "had access to guns"? Did he threaten anyone with a weapon?

3. How old is the son? Do either father or son have any record of troubles involving violence or the police?

This article, as written, is certainly slanted against the father, without any relevant facts other than he allegedly hung up the phone when called by dispatchers which caused law enforcement to surround the house and tackle him.

By the bye, what does it add to note that neighbors said police surrounded the house with guns? In my experience, it would be odd for police officers to go anywhere unarmed -

Barry Soetoro

Yeah as much as the Trib throws around the "moderated for libel and slander" in the comments section you'd think they would apply that to themselves. Then again, since he had "access to guns" he must be guilty of something.


Shockingly, I'm in complete agreement with Vlad and Barry.

Magic Mike

I was driving past this when it happened earlier today. Glad to see info on what all of the hullabaloo was about.


Not exactly fair here. Just PART of the story. "He had access to guns".. That just means that he has them in his home like most Americans do. They are trying to make it seem like he was going to use them on the kid.


Property taxes just push people to the breaking point. Like one big leech - it just takes and takes and takes all the way until your too elderly to pay anymore - the its Sanctuary at the Shore.


I agree this article is slanted against the husband/father, but isn't this how the area does things? If research is done, one would find a horrible injustice against men here with statistics from family court favoring mothers in most cases. I would like to see research conducted on past cases that completely removed fathers from families, maybe the FOC would realize they are not helping children. I think the courts should be held accountable for the life long damage done to children due to alienation of fathers.


Am I missing something here? The sub headline states Mr. Fairbairn "made a comment about GETTING a gun", not that he had access to guns as some seem to think. I would think the police acted prudently in not letting him back into the house. Although likely not pleased with this situation he found himself in, any reasonable person would obey an order from a policeman to stay put and not go inside. I don't see "had access to guns" anywhere in the article.

Still, in fairness to Mr. Fairbairn, the person who said Fairborn made that comment should have been cited in the article. Otherwise it's just an unsubstantiated rumor that the Tribune is propagating. Please clarify, Ms. Vargo.


Maybe you should note the Tribune changed the whole story after the many comments.


Maybe they don't want him to own a restaurant, it may be hard to get a liquer license with a felony on your record if it gets that far?

Vast Right Wing...

Maybe Joe wouldn't let the dinning divas pig out for free; so the Grand Haven Fishwrap decided to put his life on the front page

Barry Soetoro

Given that the police are called to a domestic violence complaint on most likely a daily basis in the Tri-Cities - can we now expect that Vargo will report each incident in detail complete with a life story and picture of the male involved?


There is absolutely 2 sides to this ridiculous story! My brother Joe would never do what's being reported about him.


I feel for you and your brother and nephews. This is a very unfortunate event to be publicly aired with so little facts. Hopefully the family resolves their differences in a private forum.


From now on I am not using the three letter word mentioned above (makes a bang when operated)...instead use eye or ear instead of "you know what" to avoid having an argument or scuffle turn into a felony arrest as a word and not fact, reality or actions makes all the difference.


Look who the investigating officer... that should tell you something..

Who's covering Grand Haven City with all three of their cars on the north side of the bridge. I certainly hope the bridge does not get stuck open so they can't respond to a fire or something serious.


There you again newspaperlawyer, or should I say former "boy in brown". Always grinding that axe with the local police. You need to learn to play nice. Grand Haven has more than 3 cars available to respond to calls for service at any given time. Again, stay in your lane of traffic if you are not sure what you are talking about.


He should draft linemen- he'd be harder to tackle


"Hey Martha! Do you want your bar back?"


Domestic dispute call, not domestic violence! Joe is a good guy and I for one won't be passing judgment until I know the facts. The GHTrib isn't a place to get them. I refer to them as the National Enquirer (NE)...for which I have been moderated. If there is any grain of truth to him going for a gun, as an officer, that should not be allowed, of course. But history is that these calls have had a "hands off" policy not only in Ottawa County but everywhere for a long time. Many women have been killed because of it. Just because Mr. Fairbairn became a "profile" person in the last few months shouldn't make him a target.


I hope you meant minutes not months?


No, I meant months in that he has been promoting his new business over that period of time. :)


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