Man who criticized firefighters charged with aggravated assault after allegedly reaching for rifle

Jeff Bobo • Nov 20, 2012 at 10:45 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County man criticizing firefighters Sunday night at their command post about how they were handling the Short Mountain forest fire was arrested after he allegedly reached for a rifle.

Michael James Campbell, 56, 9271 Highway 11-W, Rogersville, lives about three-quarters of a mile from the Quarryville Boat Ramp, where volunteer fire departments and the Tennessee Forestry Division set up their command post for the Short Mountain forest fire west of Rogersville.

Campbell reportedly drove a Chevrolet Blazer to the boat ramp to speak with firefighters about the fire around 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Hawking County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell was among the firefighters on hand who was allegedly accosted by Campbell, who resides on the opposite side of Highway 11-W from where homes were being threatened by fire.

Murrell said Campbell’s behavior during the incident was “not normal.”

“I don’t know if he was intoxicated, pilled up, or he just has that mentality,” Murrell said. “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.”

Campbell was apparently upset because there had not been any air water tanker drops and because the forest fire, which began Thursday, hadn’t been extinguished.

Murrell added, “He threatened us and he threatened the president. Then we got him away from all the people who were here because we were having a briefing, and he just kept getting louder and louder.”

District 6 Constable Josh Myers was providing security for the command post. HCSO Sgt. Keith Long stated in his report that eventually Campbell got into his vehicle but still refused to leave.

“Myers noticed a rifle in the passenger seat and asked the subject (Campbell) to produce identification,” Long stated in his report. “The subject refused, reached to the passenger seat, and placed his hand on the rifle. Myers states he then drew his weapon and forced the subject from the vehicle with the assistance of Murrell. The subject continued to be non-compliant, but was handcuffed and restrained.”

Campbell was charged with aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct and no driver’s license.

As of Tuesday, he remained held in the Hawkins County Jail without bond.

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