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Man with rifle berates firefighters, goes to jail

EMA director could not tell if the man was intoxicated, but his agitation grew and he laid a hand on his rifle

ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. — Police and fire officials subdued an irate man with a rifle at a wildland command post Sunday night. The 56-year-old man was criticizing how firefighters were handling the Short Mountain fire.

Hawking County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell told The Times News, "I don’t know if he was intoxicated, pilled up, or he just has that mentality. He started criticizing us, he started criticizing the state, then he brought the president into it. It was like a snowball getting bigger and bigger."

Michael James Campbell was reportedly upset that air tankers were not dropping water on the fire. Campbell lives less than a mile from the command post.

Michael James Campbell
Michael James Campbell

After his tirade, Campbell returned to his vehicle but would not leave. When police asked for his identification, he laid a hand on the rifle on the passenger seat, The Times News reports. It was then that the officer drew his weapon and he and Murrell took Campbell into custody.

Campbell was charged with aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct and no driver’s license, and held without bond.

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