Attorney Says Statement By Former SAU Student Was Lapse In Judgment, Not Serious Threat

Friday, January 31, 2014

The attorney for James Michael Gaines said his statement at Chattanooga State that caused a lockdown at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale was a lapse in judgment, not a serious threat.

Attorney Lee Davis said, "Jimmy Gaines was enrolling in classes with Kesha Caldwell at Chattanooga State.  Jimmy was frustrated that his transcript was being held up at Southern Adventist University despite Jimmy having written a check to clear up a financial aid bill with the college.  When Kesha Caldwell told him that the enrollment deadline was near an end asked him whether he had done everything he could to get his transcript sent over from Southern Adventist University; he said, 'I have done everything I could except put a gun to their head.

'  This statement is a colloquialism.  It is an idiomatic expression that anyone who has ever dealt with a college bureaucracy or government agency can understand. It is not a threat against anyone and of course it was not a threat against Southern Adventist University.

"Perhaps it was stupid to say this, but this brief lapse of judgement was never intended as a threat to Southern Adventist University, Chattanooga State or anyone.  It was simply an unthinking expression made at the time to convey that Jimmy had exhausted every conceivable avenue to get his transcript to Chattanooga State.  There are far too many examples of violence in and around schools, and we all understand that any real threat needs to be fully investigated.  But we also know from experience that people say stupid things that sometimes can be misunderstood.  And that is what we have here, Lt. Robert Starnes of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department misunderstood the frustrations of a young man trying to register for classes and because of that, Jimmy Gaines spent a night at the county jail and now is faced with a criminal charge.  We expect that a reviewing prosecutor will see this for what it is.

"The simple truth is that Jimmy was signing up for classes at Chatt State and was frustrated that Southern Adventist University has not released his transcript despite his having paid his bill. In frustration at their holding his transcript back, he made a stupid comment at Chattanooga State.  It was a joke and one that he immediately apologized for.  The clerk at Chatt State took it for a joke and reported it as such.

"How can we all know that this was not a serious threat?  Chatt State never locked down their campus and that was where Jimmy was at the time of the statement.  From there he went to the Taco Bell and then to work at the YMCA where he was arrested. He was taken to the Collegedale Police Department interrogated by local police, the Sheriff's department and the FBI. Despite his assurances that his short statement to Chatt State was a joke and again that he was terribly sorry, he was arrested and held overnight at the county jail. He was allowed to make bond the following day."


Man Pleads Guilty Under Diversion Statute In Hidden Camera In Restrooms Case

A 21-year-old man charged in a case in which a hidden camera shaped like an ink pen was apparently placed in several local restrooms pleaded guilty under the obstruction statute on Tuesday. Justin Jamar Wilson appeared before General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom. The charge of observation without consent can be expunged if he gets in no further trouble for a year. Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Suspcious Fire Damages Vacant House

Chattanooga firefighters responded to a house fire around 4:30 Monday morning at 1911 Huff Place.  Lt. Henry McElvain with the Fire Investigation Division said the house was vacant, but appeared to be in the process of being renovated. The dollar loss was estimated at $50,000. No injuries were reported.  Lt. McElvain said the cause of the fire appears to be suspicious ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Election Day Fable

Every day I am peppered with emails that friends send to me from across the country so I am unsure of where the fable you are about to read originated. But with early voting for the November general election now in full swing, I think everyone who will -- or will not -- take part in freedom’s greatest privilege should read this story because I believe there is a great lesson contained ... (click for more)

Tennessee Wastes No Time Shifting Attention To Alabama

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – L ittle time had passed following Tennessee's 34-3 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday night before the challenge that lies ahead this week crossed the mind of the UT staff. In past years, a loss of that type could have had a lasting impact on the psyche of the team. But  Tennessee coach Butch Jones   still sees his team progressing, both mentally ... (click for more)

Ooltewah's Riley Hickman: 2-for-2 Wins At Cleveland And Talladega

The “Hustler” Riley Hickman of Ooltewah hunkered down this weekend and picked up a pair of wins in Dirt Track competition. Friday night the # R1 “Hickman Manufacturing, American Billett, Austin Trucking, Tucker Mobile Home Service, Allstar Graphics, VP Racing Fuels, RH Designs, Competition Racing Equipment, A-1 Towing, MRC” sponsored CVR / Vic Hill powered machine ... (click for more)