Sequoyah teacher charged with holding children at gunpoint

Sequoyah teacher charged with holding children at gunpoint

September 5th, 2010 by Michael Stone in News

A Sequoyah High School teacher was arrested Sunday for allegedly holding an assault rifle on a group of teenagers who were ghost-hunting in a graveyard, authorities said.

Stacy Swallows, 45, was being held on a $180,000 bond on nine counts each of aggravated assault and false imprisonment, according to records at the Hamilton County Jail.

Janice Atkinson, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, said the teens, ages 16 to 19, had gone to Shipley Cemetery on Saturday night to follow up on a ghost story that they read about on an Internet website. As they were leaving, they told investigators, Shipley parked his car in the road to block their way and pulled a rifle, ordering them to stay where they were until police arrived.

Hamilton County Board of Education member Rhonda Thurman, whose district includes Sequoyah High, said she believes that Swallows may have thought the children were vandalizing property.

"I think maybe he thought these kids were breaking into his neighbor's house or vandalizing or something like that," she said. "So I think there's a lot more to the story than just taking them hostage."

She said there were around eight or nine children involved.

"I'm not going to make any judgements until I hear a little more," Thurman said.

For more information, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.