For 16 minutes before she called 911, triggering a fatal police shooting, Dorothy Gass was on the phone with her son, court records show.
She and Steven Gass exchanged two calls from 2:29 to 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 1. The first call lasted seven minutes. The next call lasted nine minutes. Then, at 2:52 a.m., police records show that Dorothy Gass called 911, telling a dispatcher that Steven Gass' estranged wife had threatened to kill her children and herself.
Police say that call led to confusion at 147 Meadowview Lane in Rossville, where Steven Gass' wife, Amy Gass, was staying with her parents. Her father, Mark Parkinson, walked downstairs that morning with a gun, having heard some commotion outside. Outside, seeing a man with a gun, Walker County Deputy John Chandler shot through a window, killing Parkinson.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation charged Dorothy Gass with a count of false report of a crime on Feb. 23, but the criminal inquiry is still active.
The information about the previous phone calls between Dorothy and Steven Gass contradicts what Steven Gass told the Times Free Press two months ago. In a phone interview with a reporter on Jan. 7, he said he woke up that morning to a call from his mother, claiming she had just received a threatening message from Amy Gass.
In the interview, Steven Gass said he figured his mother was confused. He said she suffered from dementia.
"I know she believes [what she reported]," he said at the time, "but I know it could never have happened."
Since then, Steven Gass has not returned multiple calls from the Times Free Press, including one on Tuesday. But in a court hearing Jan. 23 for his pending divorce, according to a transcript the newspaper obtained last week, Amy Gass' lawyer accused him of talking on the phone for several minutes before his mother made the false report.
"Did you and she plan on, 'Hey, let's wake them up by sending the cops over there?'" attorney Larry Stagg asked.
"No sir," Steven Gass said.
"If you talked, do you remember what you discussed at 2:29 a.m.?" Stagg asked.
"I do not," Steven Gass said.
"At 2:36 a.m., she called you again," Stagg said. "And you talked for nine minutes. Do you remember what you talked about?"
"No sir," Steven Gass said.
Later, he testified that he didn't even think they talked during those times, despite what Stagg said the phone records show.
"She had tried to call me; I had tried to call her," Steven Gass said. "I never did actually get in touch with her until later."
According to an incident report, Dorothy Gass called 911 at 2:52 a.m. that day. Stagg said that four minutes later, she called her son again. If they hadn't actually talked during those first two calls, Stagg asked, why do the phone records show he and Dorothy Gass were connected for a combined 16 minutes?
Steven Gass speculated his mother could have left long voicemails.
During the same hearing, Amy Gass testified that she moved in with her parents in December because she thought Steven Gass was stalking her. After picking her son up from a high school play one night, she said, Steven Gass trailed her until she went to the home of a friend who is married to a Walker County deputy.
A day or two later, she said, Steven Gass followed her almost the entire way to work. After she moved in with her parents, she said, she returned to her house to pick up some clothes. She said someone had increased the heat from 60 to 80 degrees and moved some clothes. She called the police to do a check of the house.
Steven Gass denied during the Jan. 23 court hearing stalking Amy Gass. Asked about the phone calls between Steve and Dorothy Gass the morning of the shooting, GBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Ramey said the department is aware of the allegation.
"We're investigating the whole situation," he said.
Thomas Lindsay, an attorney representing Steven Gass, declined to comment Tuesday. On Jan 26, after an internal investigation, the Walker County Sheriff's Office command staff determined that Chandler acted appropriately, according to the department's policies.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.