POLSON – As Lake County prosecutors filed multiple felony charges late this week in a bloody hammer attack in a Polson neighborhood, charging documents revealed the offenses alleged against Desmond Alan Mackay could mount.

Doctors say it is questionable whether the victim, Mackay’s father-in-law, will survive his head injuries, according to the affidavit filed by Deputy County Attorney James Lapotka.

The documents also say Mackay did not intend to hit his father-in-law in the head with the hammer.

Instead, authorities allege, he was trying to ambush someone else.

Mackay was attempting to kill his brother-in-law, Jesse Waugh, when he hit his father-in-law, John Barrows, by mistake, according to Lapotka.

In addition to attempted deliberate homicide, Mackay, 35, is charged with two counts of felony assault with a weapon.

Initially held on $500,000 bail, District Court Judge Kim Christopher on Thursday ordered Mackay be held without bail until further notice.


Police say Mackay and another man, James Hoskinson, were in the garage at the rear of a residence at 509 Fourth Ave. E. when Waugh entered, retrieved a car battery and walked back out the door.

“The defendant then grabbed a hammer off a nearby hammer rack and walked over to the door Waugh had exited,” the documents say. “Hoskinson called (Mackay’s) name, but (Mackay) ignored him.”

Mackay paused at the doorway and waited until the door began to open again, the affidavit alleges.

“Then he quickly jerked open the door with his left hand and swung his hammer toward the head of the person in the doorway,” it continues.

But it was the 67-year-old Barrows who started opening the door, not Waugh.

“Oh s—, sorry,” Hoskinson says he heard Mackay say after Barrows had been struck in the head.


As Hoskinson ran inside the house to call 9-1-1, Waugh – who was still outside the garage – says he heard Mackay yelling expletives, and then saw Mackay come at him with the hammer raised and ready to strike him.

“Waugh, who is significantly larger than the defendant, raised his left arm to protect himself,” according to the affidavit. “The hammer’s handle struck Waugh’s forearm, deflecting the hammerhead into Waugh’s left cheek and temple area.”

Waugh told police there had been problems between him and Mackay involving work and money. Waugh pinned Mackay to the ground until police, who received the 9-1-1 call at 7:11 p.m., arrived.

The documents say Mackay allegedly told Polson Police Detective Michelle Scott that he believed Waugh owed him money, that he “hated” Waugh and that he meant to hit Waugh, not his father-in-law.

Mackay also allegedly told Scott that he didn’t know if he had hit Waugh with the head of the hammer, “but he stated that he hoped he did.”

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Polson Police Officer Cory Anderson was one of the first on the scene in the alley behind the residence, and found Waugh struggling on the ground with Mackay and holding Mackay down.

“He hit my dad with a hammer,” Anderson says Waugh told him. Mackay, meantime, “told the officer that he didn’t mean to do it; he didn’t know it was Barrows.”

Anderson recovered a framing hammer in a nearby snowbank.

Barrows was found in the doorway to the garage “bleeding profusely from the head with others holding a towel over his wound,” the affidavit says. “John Barrows’ face and head were covered in blood and he had a large swollen bump on the left rear side of his head.”

Burrows was unresponsive.

The victim was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson and flown to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.

He has never regained consciousness and remains in critical condition, Lapotka said in the court filings.

Mackay will be arraigned on the three felony charges on Thursday.