by Mark Millican
Law enforcement authorities working off the information given them by a Coosawattee River Resort resident spent a steamy Monday trying to determine if an armed assailant had hidden inside a camper in the complex after threatening the resident.
Sheriff Stacy Nicholson of the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office reported around 3:30 p.m. that a team of SWAT personnel from the Gilmer and Cherokee sheriff’s departments “cleared” the residence and no assailant was found.
A 911 call came in around 10 a.m. from a man who said another man with a shotgun had come inside his residence in the camper section of Coosawattee, threatened him personally and also threatened to burn his camper down, Nicholson said.
The resident was able to call 911 after he got away from his camper, and told authorities he saw smoke coming out of one of the windows. Nicholson said the man claimed a woman — the alleged perpetrator’s girlfriend whom the resident did not know — came to his camper Monday morning to get away from him because they were fighting, then left to go back to the camper she had come from. The resident said the man then showed up with the shotgun and pointed it at him and threatened him.
Nicholson was asked how the investigation would be directed since a gunman had not been found.
“Now that the place is cleared, and the potential that there was someone in the camper has been put to rest, we’ll be looking more in-depth at the complaint and go from there,” he said. “Unless we find something there that fits (the resident’s) story — and so far nothing has fit his story — we probably will charge him for the sole purpose of the aggravation and financial expense and burden he has cost Gilmer and Cherokee counties.”
Before the camper was cleared, Nicholson was asked about possible charges if it could be determined the resident had pulled a hoax.
“There’s always the possibility that there was somebody was (inside) there, and they (alleged perpetrator) just got gone,” he said at a pavilion in the camper section around 100 yards from the scene that was serving as a headquarters area. “We’d have to able to prove that that didn’t happen, but if we can prove that (we could charge) false report of a crime and anything else that may go along that would put him in a state of mind to do such a thing. But I don’t want to make a judgment call on that.”
Nicholson was asked if the resident appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“He’s talking pretty rational, he’s not talking completely out of his head,” he replied. “It’s a wild story, but I’ve been around law enforcement long enough to know that wild stories are true too.”
Nicholson said no residents were evacuated from the area since it appeared no one was home at the campers in the isolated neighborhood. Since there was no phone line running to the camper, officers used a public address system to try and contact the alleged assailant and also considered trying to get a phone inside the camper before deciding to enter it