Former Lufkin man accused of tree poisoning attacked

OPELIKA, AL (WBRC) - Harvey Updyke, the man accused of poisoning the oak trees at Toomer's Corner in Auburn was allegedly beat up just miles from the Lee County Justice Center in Opelika where earlier Wednesday he waived his rights to a preliminary hearing.

Updyke's attorney Glennon Threatt told Fox 6 News that minutes after the hearing, Updyke was struck in the head by an "unknown assailant" at an Opelika gas station. Updyke drove himself to East Alabama Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

"As bad as this whole tree poisoning situation was, it's even worse when an unknown assailant attacks my client," Threatt said.

Updyke is a former Texas state trooper and Lufkin resident.

Opelika Police Capt. Allan Elkins said in a statement an officer responded to the Tiger Express around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon where Updyke said he was assaulted by one or more people.

"Updyke said he never saw who struck him; however, he believes there was more than one person involved," the statement reads. Updyke told police he was punched in the face, and received several scratches and abrasions.

After being released from the hospital, Updyke told police he went back to the gas station to see if the store had surveillance video of the incident.

The manager and a clerk at the Tiger Express both told Fox 6 that they did not witness any attacks. The gas station only has surveillance cameras at the front of the store near the gas pumps, and Updyke's attack allegedly occurred at the back of the building.

WJOX Radio Host Paul Finebaum reported on his Twitter account that Threatt told him they left the courthouse at 2:30 p.m., and was attacked 15 minutes later. The incident allegedly occurred at the Tiger Express gas station on Highway 280.

Earlier reports falsely stated that Updyke was stabbed and that the attack occurred before he went into his hearing.

Updyke, 62, of Dadeville was arrested on criminal mischief charges in February, days after he called into Finebaum's radio show claiming to have poisoned the historic oak trees. Environmental researchers said the trees were poisoned and would eventually die.

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