published Friday, August 26th, 2011

Man held after threat to kill Dade County sheriff

A man will face multiple felony charges after authorities say he carried a loaded 9 mm pistol in his truck to several Dade County office buildings following alleged threats to kill the sheriff and a judge.

Hillard Stevens, 61, was arrested Wednesday evening after Sheriff Patrick Cannon said he forced the man to crash his truck on Highway 136. Stevens, who records show has been arrested at least 17 times in Dade County since 2003, was fleeing authorities at the time, Cannon said.

When he got to Stevens' wrecked truck, Cannon said he found a loaded gun and at least 300 rounds of ammunition inside.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Hillard Stevens was going to shoot me," Cannon said Thursday.

Stevens is being held in the Dade County Jail without a bond.

The sheriff said he called the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation because he and other county employees personally were threatened.

The GBI hasn't decided what Stevens will be charged with, but he will face multiple felony charges, said Jerry Scott, special agent in charge of the bureau's office in Calhoun, Ga.

Stevens, who previously has been arrested on felony charges such as arson and animal cruelty, had been making death threats against Cannon for several weeks, saying he would blow the sheriff up and cut him, Cannon said.

Stevens also was heard making threats to kill a magistrate judge, the sheriff said.

On Tuesday night, Cannon said, a Dade County sheriff's employee told him Stevens had purchased a gun.

On Wednesday, Stevens was sighted at the magistrate's office in Trenton, Cannon said. Stevens turned the music up full blast in his truck and circled the office's driveway at least 40 times until an employee told him to leave, according to Cannon.

About the same time, the sheriff was at a nearby stop sign when Stevens pulled up, Cannon said. As Stevens sat at the stop sign, Cannon recognized the man glaring at him and told one of his deputies to arrest him.

But Stevens drove away, and the deputy and Cannon chased him several miles to Highway 136, according to the sheriff.

Stevens also faces several traffic citations and has warrants pending against him for violating probation and eluding arrest, Cannon said.

Stevens' most recent arrests before Wednesday came in May, when he was charged with arson and two days later with criminal trespass, records show.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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