LEECHBURG (KDKA) — The mayor-elect of Leechburg spent the night in jail facing charges of harassment and assault.

According to the criminal complaint, Mayor-elect Shawn Lerch was allegedly drinking Thursday night when he got into a heated argument with his wife over plans to move his mother-in-law into their home.

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The complaint says Lerch allegedly called his mother-in-law an obscene name and his 18-year-old stepson got offended.

Authorities say Lerch is accused of grabbing his stepson by the throat and pushing him to the ground.

That’s when his wife called 911.

“He regrets that it happened and it was a relatively minor family situation that got a little out of control,” Lerch’s Attorney Chuck Pascal says.

The complaint says Lerch told his stepson, “You’re a high school drop-out and I’m the mayor.”

Police took a gun and a knife away from Lerch and charged him with simple assault and harassment.

“The charges were filed today and we tell people not to talk, and certainly not talk to the media and to try cases in the media. At the appropriate time, he’ll make a statement,” Pascal says.

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After his arrest, Lerch was placed in a holding cell.

“When you become mayor-elect you’ve got to use your head and think before you act. When you make those kinds of mistakes you have to be held accountable just like anybody else,” Leechburg resident Wes Berry says.

The criminal complaint says he told the police officer that there will be repercussions.

“Our wish is that this had never happened, but it’s a mistake and things happen in families and in family arguments, relatively minor mistake,” Pascal says.

He was elected mayor after winning the primary in May and running unopposed in November.

“When you take on a position like that you have to think. And obviously, he didn’t do that,” Barry says.

Lerch is scheduled to take office in January.

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