published Monday, September 6th, 2010

Police: Teacher pulls gun on teens


by Michael Stone

A Sequoyah High School teacher was charged Sunday with allegedly holding at gunpoint teenagers who were ghost-hunting in a graveyard on Saturday night, authorities said.

Stacy Swallows, 45, of Shipley Cemetery Road in Sale Creek, was booked at 8:52 a.m. Sunday on nine counts each of aggravated assault and false imprisonment, according to records at the Hamilton County Jail. He was being held on a $180,000 bond, records show.

Janice Atkinson, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, said police were dispatched at 10:42 p.m. Saturday to Shipley Hollow Road at Shipley Cemetery Road in reference to a shots-fired call.

On their way, police were told that Swallows had several people held at gunpoint, and he was waiting for police to arrive, she said.

Upon arrival, police confiscated an assault rifle from Swallows and began to investigate, Atkinson said.

The teens, aged 16 to 19, “gave written statements advising that they had gone to the cemetery to follow up on a ghost story that they had read about on an Internet website concerning the Shipley Cemetery,” Atkinson said in a release.

The teens stated that, as they were leaving, they came in contact with Swallows, who parked his vehicle in the roadway to block their travel, police said.

“Mr. Shipley displayed a rifle, pointed it at them and instructed them to stay where they were until police arrived,” Atkinson said.

Swallows is a diesel mechanics teacher at Sequoyah High, newspaper archives indicate. Some of his students won awards in diesel engine competitions earlier this year.

Swallows also owns Diesel Performance & Repair in Sale Creek.

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EaTn said...

You betcha-- teachers should be allowed to carry a gun into the classroom to protect their students.

September 6, 2010 at 6:50 a.m.
chattreb said...

Need to let this man go and drop all charges. As far as I'm concerned he did the community a service. These weren't kids out there. I understand they were 16 - 19. Have you read in the paper what people that age can do? Let the man go!!!

September 6, 2010 at 7:50 a.m.
alohaboy said...

I support the teacher, if you want a bond, drop it to $18

September 6, 2010 at 8:34 a.m.
deltenney said...

It is outrageous that the teacher was arrested and charged. He called the police for help in curtailing an invasion of the cemetery, or what he considered to be an invasion of the cemetery. He definitely was looking out for the good of the community. Why would the police under the circumstances file charges against the crime buster? The teacher should be up for an award not condemnation. Could it be the police have now switched sides and decided to support the criminals as opposed to citizens of the community? This should indeed be "investigated" and not by the same police department that used this incident to bolster their "crime statistics!"

September 6, 2010 at 8:43 a.m.
shancan75 said...

This is ridiculous! There are so many robberies in the area and kids don't have any business in a residential area, especially in a remote area, late at night. What did they think would happen when their presence was detected? I have known Stacy all my life and without a doubt know he was only protecting his family. He shouldn't have been arrested to begin with. I am outraged!

September 6, 2010 at 8:43 a.m.
shancan75 said...

The cemetery is practically in his front yard, he has a family to protect and the media puts their spin on it to make him out to be the criminal. What a shame...

September 6, 2010 at 8:47 a.m.
greenj76 said...

I used to be a professional ghost hunter on a legit team. I must admit while just getting started cemeteries were first on the list. I then realized it was a waste of time; not to mention illegal. Shipley cemetery is a local haunt that is well know in the area and I can understand why the teens chose that location. A legitimate team would have gotten permissin from the city as well as having documentation on hand to back it up. I am not saying the teens were right but what this gentleman should have done was call the police and let them handle it, and not get a power trip with an assault rifle.

September 6, 2010 at 8:57 a.m.
daisy said...

I have known this man for thirty years. He would not intentionally and unlawfully hurt anyone, especially a group of kids. No matter what spin the media sets into motion with this, he does not have to prove his innocence and integrity to those who know him well. If he had meant harm, some young lad would have already been in ER with a bullet being extracted from his hind end.

September 6, 2010 at 9:09 a.m.
memphisexile said...

The simple fact is when you point a gun at someone that is aggravated assault. When you prevent people from leaving somewhere by force or intimidation when they have committed no crime that is false imprisonment.

These teens were not breaking any law, except for maybe trespassing, and were not hurting anyone. The shrill response to this story is that the teens could have been up to "anything". But nothing in the story says they were doing anything risky or illegal. They were a bunch of silly kids looking for a ghost.

What right does this man have to point a gun at kids who, according to the story, were doing nothing wrong? They were not on his land, so they weren't trespassing against him. They weren't stealing or vandalizing.

If this was your child would you think it's ok for a man to point a gun at them and hold them against their will? He is NOT a police officer.

However, you are innocent until proven guilty. He will have his day in court to refute the evidence against him and be tried by a jury of his peers. Like every other criminal case, this should not be tried in the media. None of us possess all the facts.

September 6, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.
esaletnik said...

If you look at Google maps you will see that there are no gates and no “No trespassing” signs in the area. The ghost sightings are well documented on the internet. There is no reason to believe that this is not a public right of way. As long they did not go on his land, he has no business holding anyone at gunpoint. This “My home is my castle” mentality and I’m going to shoot anyone who comes within a mile of it is getting out of hand.

September 6, 2010 at 9:13 a.m.
moonpie said...

memphisexile, excellent post.

September 6, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.
MIchaelsebox said...

People :

You dont produce an assault rifle to a bunch of young adults playing in a cemetary . They had their fun and were leaving ! They did not damage anything . Next time Mr teacher , get a tag number and have the police follow up . What if one of the 19 year olds had a gun permit [gun] and shot the crazed man with the assault rifle because he and his friends were in fear of their lives . All due to kids playing ghost !

                               Michael Burns
September 6, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.
rolando said...

Sorry, EaTn, but this story doesn't fit in with your anti-gun rave at all.

It wasn't a classroom, for starters, nor was it a handgun. It one of those horrible "assault-rifles" [Gasp!] whatever those are and it was a cemetery entrance. This was hardly something a teacher would carry into work.

Second, the fact he is a teacher is irrelevant to the case -- other than to draw or stir up outrage and anti-gun fervor from the gun-control nuts...much as the "assault-rifle" comment was meant to do. Might as well say he was a priest or a survivalist or maybe a gun-collecting screwball.

September 6, 2010 at 9:35 a.m.
OldTimer1933 said...

There is no mention as to whether cemetery was closed, but I have a question. Suppose Mr.Swallows had witnessed them committing acts of vandalism...and then prevented them from leaving in exactly the same manner as described, while waiting for the police to arrive?

I am not supportive of 'vigilante justice', but where does the line get drawn when police are needed to clear up a matter and they are not there and the perpetrators are likely to escape and the civic minded citizen is outnumbered 9 to 1?

Of course, this is a local matter but I am thinking of the border where lawbreakers act as if they have a 'right' to break any laws, trespass, litter or whatever and A PRIVATE CITIZEN CAN BE PROSECUTED FOR DETAINING THEM...OR 'SCARING' THEM?

September 6, 2010 at 9:41 a.m.
Reason said...

You have an number of teens wandering somewhere they don't belong at night, I think the teacher overreacted but doesn't need to be charged. I also thing the police overreacted and should charge the kids with tresspassing.

"My home is my castle" is called constitutional rights dude; get over that. You don't want the right to live safely in your own home cool!!! Invite the neighborhood thugs to your house; we'll see how long that lasts

September 6, 2010 at 9:42 a.m.
rolando said...

"These teens were not breaking any law, except for maybe trespassing..."

The same could be said for 16-19 yr old mall-loungers or street-corner gangs.

Sounds like Teach laid a citizens' arrest on them. I would say he taught the miscreants are rather valuable lesson about messing around where and when they do not belong.

September 6, 2010 at 9:48 a.m.
rolando said...

Mr. Stone: What's that about the police responding to a "shots-fired" report?

Care to follow-up that mention just a tad?

Maybe we should know if shots were indeed fired...the police have the weapon [a proper description of it would be nice, too] so they could easily determine if it had been fired. Spent shell casings should be in the area also -- all "assault-rifles" eject fired rounds automatically.

The story needs a follow-up, soonest. Before the rumors start...although having your story go viral might be a good career move.

September 6, 2010 at 9:50 a.m.
EaTn said...

rolando-- did you just get up or just get home? Actually my post was meant to be a pun. Although I think this teacher had good intentions, any reaction to pull a gun if no lives are in jeopardy can prove to be costly. I think most (but not all) permit holders would have handled it differently.

September 6, 2010 at 10:02 a.m.
McLovin said...

Reason--too bad for Mr. Swallows that the kids were no where near his home. A man's home is his castle only applies inside the home, not at an open cemetery off the side of a road.

September 6, 2010 at 10:27 a.m.
OldTimer1933 said...

There is a difference between 'castle law' and Tennessee's 'stand your ground law'. 'Castle' applies to use of force in one's home, but 'stand your ground' means any place you have a lawful right to be.

http://state.tn.us/sos/acts/105/pub/pc0210.pdf

September 6, 2010 at 10:55 a.m.
Tax_Payer said...

Those kids could from been from a cult that digs up graves and that teacher was serving the best interest of the neighborhood by catching them red-handed them holding them until the police got there. The police are wrong for arresting that man and it will bite them.

September 6, 2010 at 11:12 a.m.
tobiah said...

The funniest thing about this article is your responses.

--"I used to be a professional ghost hunter on a legit team. I must admit while just getting started cemeteries were first on the list. I then realized it was a waste of time; not to mention illegal. Shipley cemetery is a local haunt that is well know in the area and I can understand why the teens chose that location. A legitimate team would have gotten permission from the city as well as having documentation on hand to back it up. I am not saying the teens were right but what this gentleman should have done was call the police and let them handle it, and not get a power trip with an assault rifle."--greenj76

Hahaha, I agree with greenj76, these kids are complete amatuers! Any real ghost hunter would have done their homework and known that the scariest s**t out there are the crazy ass gun carrying neighbors. I would have been scared out of my bladder if I was looking for a ghost and found RAMBO instead.

--"Those kids could from been from a cult that digs up graves and that teacher was serving the best interest of the neighborhood by catching them red-handed them holding them until the police got there. The police are wrong for arresting that man and it will bite them."--Tax_Payer

LOL, a cult, a little superstitious are we? I guess you must be looking at the same website these kids were checking out to find their ghost story huh? "It will bite them"? Man you some voodoo worshiping crazy!

--"These teens were not breaking any law, except for maybe trespassing..."

The same could be said for 16-19 yr old mall-loungers or street-corner gangs.

Sounds like Teach laid a citizens' arrest on them. I would say he taught the miscreants are rather valuable lesson about messing around where and when they do not belong."--rolondo

"If it wasn't for those medling kids I would have gotten away with this!" You sound like an old fart trying to shake his fist at the Mystery Van. Quit Watching so much Scooby Doo and Mall Rats. I do applaud for a great use of the word miscreants however.

September 6, 2010 at 12:32 p.m.
EaTn said...

A case like this has a slim chance of being nailed in the junkets of DA, grand jury and law trial. The gotcha most overlooked is the separate and very eager civil trial lawyers with separate rules.

September 6, 2010 at 12:37 p.m.
deltenney said...

Tax_Payer is right; if these are juveniles roaming around graveyards or other places at night, their parents should be charged with neglect. The teacher should be commended.

September 6, 2010 at 2:10 p.m.
2ndAMENDMENT said...

A private citizen can make an arrest of suspects if he/she has probable cause a crime was committed. a private citizen can use what ever force is necessary to detain the suspect{s} until law enforcement help arrives. TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED {TCA} GRANTS PRIVATE CITIZENS THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE AN ARREST : TCA 40-7-101...108

THAT SAID; CALL THE POLICE TO DEAL WITH CRIMMINALS.

September 6, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

"What if one of the 19 year olds had a gun permit [gun] and shot the crazed man with the assault rifle because he and his friends were in fear of their lives"

There aren't any 19 year olds with a carry permit in the state of TN. You have to 21 to legally exercise your 2nd amendment right to bear arms. (Yes, it is Unconstitutional for TN to do it that way)

That said, you do have a point that the teacher put himself in a very dangerous situation with regard to pointing a rifle at people who were not on his property, or threatening him.

That is a very good way to get shot, and the shooter would likely walk. Dumb dumb dumb.

September 6, 2010 at 6:37 p.m.
rolando said...

quote “Mr. Shipley displayed a rifle, pointed it at them and instructed them to stay where they were until police arrived,” Atkinson said. unquote

In other words, the sheriff took the word of the kids. No report as to what Mr. Swallows had to say.

September 6, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.
rolando said...

EaTn -- My apologies, sir. I took you at your very word.


tobiah said, You sound like an old fart trying to shake his fist at the Mystery Van. Quit Watching so much Scooby Doo and Mall Rats. I do applaud for a great use of the word miscreants however."

I prefer "old curmudgeon", thank you. So what is a Mystery Van and who are Scooby Doo and the Mall Rats? Sounds like a heavy metal rock group...a rather poor one [but then, are there any GOOD ones?].

And yes, "miscreant" has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?

September 6, 2010 at 10:38 p.m.
PepperGrinder said...

Seems the kids story checks out.

September 7, 2010 at 6:39 p.m.
toliverj01 said...

Tennesse law concerning graveyards changed in 2006 T.C.A 46-1-313. Trespass on or injury to cemetery property — Interference with processions or religious exercises — Penalty. — (a) No person shall willfully destroy, deface, or injure any monument, tomb, gravestone, or other structure placed in the cemetery, or any roadway, walk, fence or enclosure in or around the cemetery, or injure any tree, plant or shrub, or hunt or shoot, play at any game or amusement, or loiter for lascivious or lewd purposes in the cemetery, or interfere, by words or actions, with any funeral procession or any religious exercises.

September 8, 2010 at 6:25 p.m.
rabittfoot67 said...

okay seriously? some of yall dont think he deserves to be arrested? that he should actually be awarded? you stupid, stupid people. have you forgotten what it was like to be a kid? you never went ghost hunting? shipley hollow is a popular spot for night terror. and how would you like it if these were your kids? no good parent can sit there and tell me that they would want their kids harrassed and held hostage by a strange man when they've done nothing wrong. and yes, they were held hostage. when you hold a rifle to a 18 year olds head and tell him he's not going anywhere till the cops get there is called holding someone hostage. and nobody has ever injured this cemetary property. i went there myself when i was younger. you get outta your car, walk around a bit, get the crap scared outta you, then leave. people need to get their thoughts collected before they start blabbing their mouths.

September 10, 2010 at 8:25 a.m.
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