published Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Animal shootings reported in Apison, Tenn.


by Naomi Jagoda
  • photo
    Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond speaks to the media in this file photo.
    Staff File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Don Stafford brought a horse named Ginger for his wife shortly after they got married about eight years ago.

But Ginger’s life was cut short when she was shot and killed in December, said Stafford, proprietor of Diamond D Ranch in Apison.

The same Sunday morning that Stafford discovered that Ginger was dead, Steve Wilhoit found one of his cows shot between its eyes.

“It was deliberately shot,” Wilhoit said.

These incidents and other crimes were mentioned at a community meeting Tuesday night at Apison United Methodist Church. The meeting attracted a standing-room-only crowd that forced people to park on the grass because there was no more room in the parking lot.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said after the meeting that in general, people in the Apison area have been more on edge since the April 27 tornadoes caused damage to the area.

Shannon Wilson, who works in community relations for the sheriff’s office, said that after the storms, people came into the area and tried to take advantage of residents. There also have been a few break-ins of cars and homes, she said.

During the meeting, law enforcement officials including Hammond gave tips about how residents can stay safe and answered Apison-area residents’ questions.

Hammond said people should call for help if something doesn’t feel right, even if it turns out to be a false alarm.

Hamlton County Trustee Bill Hullander, who lives in Apison, announced a confidential reward in connection with the livestock shootings, which at the time he spoke was for $3,000.

“We do not want this to continue,” he said.

Todd Chancey, pastor at Apison United Methodist Church, thought the meeting was helpful. He hopes community members now form neighborhood watch groups.

“That’s our goal, to help each other,” he said.

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