published Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Negotiator talks LaFayette man out of two-hour standoff with police

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Bengie Clift isn't accustomed to good endings.

As a trained negotiator for the LaFayette Police Department, Clift is used to emergency calls coming after a fight or an outburst of rage.

Tuesday night, authorities got a call that local resident Freddie Lowe had a gun to his ex-wife's head, said Clift, who is also the department's assistant chief. Lowe threatened to kill his wife -- whom authorities don't want to name -- and his 17-year-old son and then turn the gun on himself, Clift said.

Arriving at the house off Wind Song Road about 11:30 p.m., Clift spent about 90 minutes convincing Lowe to give his ex-wife the gun and walk out the front door and into the arms of the Walker County SWAT team clustered near the lawn.

Lowe came out a little after 1 a.m. and was arrested, Clift said.

"We got lucky [Tuesday] night," he said. "We had enough factors go our way."

Lowe was hit with multiple charges, including three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of terrorist threats, pointing or aiming a gun at another and cruelty to children in the third degree.

He is in the Walker County Jail and is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court this afternoon for a bond hearing.

LaFayette Police Sgt. Darin Kelley said Lowe showed up at his ex-wife's house about 11 p.m., apparently drunk. He kicked in the front door and started waving a gun. Lowe's 17-year-old son and 18-year-old friend ran out the front door and called 911, Kelley said.

Police believe Lowe grabbed his ex-wife and threatened to shoot her, but when he wasn't looking, she dialed 911, Kelley said. Although the phone was hidden under a pillow, the police dispatcher could hear the two wrestling over the gun, the sergeant said.

When police arrived, Clift called the house phone and Lowe recognized the officer's voice. The two men knew each other from around town.

"I told him he wasn't a killer," Clift said. "He's not the type of guy who would do that kind of thing."

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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Salsa said...

Good Job!

July 21, 2011 at 2:17 p.m.
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