A Tennessee teacher held nine teens at gunpoint at Shipley Cemetery in Soddy Daisy, near Chattanooga, on Saturday night. The teens said they were just hunting for ghosts. The teacher said teens use the cemetery as a party spot. The entire community is outraged over the incident, taking sides between the teacher and the teens over the incident.
The teacher, 45 year-old Stacy Swallows of Sequoyah High School, found the teens at the cemetery on Saturday. He blocked their exit with his car before aiming a loaded rifle at them. He told the teens to “stay put”, according to one of the teens, until the police arrived.
When the police arrived, Swallows was arrested on nine counts of assault and nine counts of false imprisonment. His bond, originally set at $180,000 was greatly reduced yesterday to $25,000. Several members of the community have vouched for Swallows and state that he is a “stellar citizen” with a “tremendous reputation”.
The members of the community are divided over the incident. The teens, who range in age from 13 to 19 years, have not been charged with any crime at this time. This outrages some residents who state that the teens should be charged with trespassing and had “no business” to be there in the first place. They call the arrest of Swallows “ridiculous”. Others are outraged that the teacher pointed a gun at the teens.
The use of cemetery by local teens has concerned residents in the past, who say that they frequently find used condoms, bras, panties and drug paraphernalia among the headstones. Swallows, who lives near the cemetery, claimed that he went to the cemetery, armed, after hearing gunshots and reporting the sounds to police. None of the nine teens were found to possess a gun or drugs when apprehended.
Bobby Cassidy and her brother Tommy Iles “are fighting mad” that Swallows was arrested. Their family cemetery, which is a private cemetery, was where the incident took place.
Cassidy said Swallows is fully supported and “he had all the rights in the world to go down there.”
The teens state that they read about a ghost story related to the cemetery on the Internet earlier in the evening and just wanted to go on a ghost hunt.
Swallows is scheduled for arraignment on November 17th. In the meantime, the teens involved in the incident have been ordered to stay three miles away from the cemetery.
Judge Robert Moon, who lowered Swallows’ bond, stated that there are “out and out lies swirling in this case”. Voicing his frustration over the matter, he further stated: “Thank God we don’t try cases in the media.”