Man interrupts church, tells congregation he's on bath salts

Jeff Bobo • Oct 8, 2012 at 9:02 AM

KINGSPORT — Hawkins County deputies chased down an alleged hammer-wielding bath salts user Sunday morning who reportedly interrupted a church service in the Ross Campground community just north of the Hawkins County section of Kingsport.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday, Hawkins County deputies responded to the Ross Campground Church on Ross Campground Road on a complaint of a man interrupting church to announce he was on bath salts before fleeing on foot.

Upon their arrival, Sgt. Nathan Simpson and Deputy Jason Montgomery located the man at the rear of a residence at 371 Ross Campground Road.

Montgomery stated in his report that the man, identified at Ronnie Lee Hardesty, 36, 104 Persia Estates Drive, Rogersville, was holding a large hammer and appeared to be under the influence.

“Sgt. Simpson told Mr. Hardesty to come to us, and he stated ‘I’m not going back to jail’ and refused to put the hammer on the ground,” Montgomery stated in his report. “Sgt. Simpson and myself unholstered our weapons and gave verbal commands to drop his weapon, at which time Mr. Hardesty began to run toward an open field to cross a wire fence.”

Hardesty then fell and allegedly swung the hammer toward the officers. Following a scuffle, Hardesty ran on foot a short distance before being taken into custody.

As Hardesty was being taken to a patrol car, the occupants at 371 Ross Campground Road reported that Hardesty had been beating on the door with the hammer attempting to gain entry prior to the officers’ arrival.

Both officers observed marks on the door consistent with that version of events.

A search of Hardesty allegedly revealed him to be in possession of a syringe hidden in his sock.

Hardesty was charged with aggravated assault against the two officers, attempted burglary, public intoxication, resisting arrest, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

As of Monday, Hardesty remained held in the Hawkins County jail on $75,000 bond.

He is scheduled for arraignment Oct. 22.

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