Broom, then pepper spray subdue Outback kangaroo

July 26, 2011 - 10:59 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A 94-year-old woman struck an attacking kangaroo with a broom and managed to crawl to safety in her house in the Australian Outback before police subdued the animal with pepper spray.

Phyllis Johnson said the kangaroo attacked her while she was hanging her laundry in her yard Sunday in the Queensland state town of Charleville.

"I thought it was going to kill me," Johnson told The Courier Mail from a hospital bed. "It was taller than me, and it just plowed through the clothes on the washing line straight for me."

She said she saw a blur of red fur before the kangaroo knocked her down and kicked her prone body. Johnson told Australian media she managed to get to her feet and grab the broom to hit the animal enough times to daze it and escape.

"She fought it off herself with a bit of help from the family dog," her son said Tuesday. Rob Johnson said the kangaroo had "a bit of a go" at him when he arrived home from church, then he called police.

He said his mother has a large gash on her leg and is recovering from the attack.

Senior-Sgt. Stephen Perkins, head of police in Charleville, said the first officer to reach the backyard was forced to spray the kangaroo to avoid being injured.

"The animal jumped away, then saw another officer at the back of the police car and went for that officer, and he also had to deploy his capsicum spray — so the roo had to get sprayed twice," Perkins told The Associated Press. "After that, it hopped away from the scene, but police could still monitor its location — it didn't go too far."

Wildlife rangers trapped the kangaroo. It is a male red kangaroo, the world's largest marsupial. They can stand as tall as a man and weigh around 200 pounds (90 kilograms).

The kangaroo will be examined by a vet before a decision is made about its future, government official Mike Devery said. Initial observations found some muscle deterioration in one of its hind legs, he said.

Kangaroos rarely attack humans, and Perkins said he had never before heard of police using pepper spray against one.

"It did subdue the animal and drew its attention away for the officers, so it worked," he said.