Jake Old: Catfish, a dangerous criminal instrument

Jake Old • Updated Jun 1, 2017 at 1:00 PM

As part of my job here at The Democrat, I look over intake reports from Wilson County Jail each day to see if there are any notable arrests from the day prior. 

Without fail, I see alleged crimes in which a suspect bludgeoned a victim with a dead catfish. And, of course, the numerous times when I see charges of breaking into a vehicle by using a catfish. Who can forget the number of times a dead catfish has been used as a disguise in the commission of a theft? 

Oh, wait, that’s right. None of those things happen. 

On Monday, during the 5-3 loss the Nashville Predators suffered to the Pittsburgh Penguins in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, a particularly bold Predators fan managed to sneak a catfish into the arena and tossed it onto the ice. 

Throwing catfish on the ice is a Nashville hockey tradition that dates back to the early 2000s. Whether or not the tradition makes any sense depends on whom you ask. Other teams have similar traditions, such as the Detroit Red Wings, who served as the inspiration for Nashville fans. 

According to AP reports, the fan, identified as Jacob Waddell, was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of a crime and disrupting meetings and processions. 

Charging this man with anything seems to be a bit much to me. I cannot ever remember anyone facing charges for throwing a catfish on the ice, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it hasn’t happened. 

Disorderly conduct? OK, I suppose there’s never a great reason to toss a dead catfish anywhere in public.

Disrupting meetings and processions? Is that what the kids call hockey games these days?  Meetings and processions? This charge seems over the top for the supposed crime. 

Still, the most befuddling charge is possessing instruments of a crime. Ladies and gentlemen, a catfish is now considered an instrument of a crime. 

In which crimes would a catfish be particularly useful as an instrument? Just the crime of tossing it onto the ice during a hockey game? The only crime here is that a perfectly good catfish went to waste. 

Thankfully, the district attorney there saw the charges were not appropriate for the alleged crime and chose to drop the charges, according to a report by The Tennessean on Wednesday morning. 

Before the charges were dropped, I had all kinds of mean thoughts about the law enforcement in Pittsburgh and how they chose to spend their time and resources, but they have been redeemed in my eyes. 

In an interview on 104.5 The Zone, Waddell told the story behind the catfish toss. He bought the fish in Tennessee, kept it in a cooler on his way to Pennsylvania and sprayed it with cologne to hide the scent. 

He strapped the fish under his clothes to get it into the arena, and he made his way down from his upper-level seat to the lower level to toss the fish out onto the ice. 

Hearing a bonafide criminal spill the details behind such a heinous crime sent chills down my spine. 

Surely law enforcement officers in Pittsburgh have more pressing issues to address than the guy who threw a catfish. Thankfully, it seems the prosecutors there agree. 

Jake Old is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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