OK, I'm beginning to believe something's just wrong with the moon. On Thursday (my day off) an FBI agent came to the JC Public Library, investigating something- apparently he wouldn't specify what- that had been done over one of the library's free to the public internet computers. Whatever set the FBI off, they tracked the IP address to the library. I also don't know when this was supposed to have taken place, but I definitely got the impression that it was just within a day or so. Then today the Johnson City Press ran this story, although this dude (well known to us all, we called him "Castro") had not been in the library for some time.
Shoplifting arrest leads to more serious charges
By Chris Garland
ERWIN — Federal agents assisted local law enforcement officers in removing sniper rifles and body armor from the apartment of a man initially wanted for shoplifting DVDs.
Boxes of ammunition, rifles, swords, a black hood, gas mask, rubber mask and pistols were some of the items removed from the 204 Gay St. apartment of Randall Douglas Griffith, 47. Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris and officers also found thousands of rounds of ammunition, guns and food rations in the apartment.
Also found were hundreds of books and videos, including such titles as “Contract Killer,” “Guilty by Reason of Insanity,” “Escape,” “WACO,” “Crime and Insanity,” “The Evil Messiah,” “Guide to Uncovering Cemeteries” and “Armed Robberies.” Books on Adolf Hitler, witchcraft and the Ku Klux Klan were also found.
“This proves that you need to follow up on even the smallest thing,” Harris said. “This all started as a shoplifting case where we got permission from Griffith to look for more stolen DVDs in his apartment.
“Griffith was charged Wednesday by the Erwin police for shoplifting at Downtown Video on Main Street. When Officer James White was making the arrest, Griffith opened a knife on him and he was also charged with going armed.”
Harris said a search warrant was obtained to search the apartment for other stolen items.
“We received consent and did find several stolen videos that have already been identified by Downtown Video as their property,” the sheriff said. “Hundreds of videos and DVDs also found are believed to have been stolen and we are asking other area stores to let us know what they have missing to possibly solve some of their thefts. We also found books believed to have been stolen from East Tennessee State University’s library, Unicoi County Library and the Johnson City Library.”
Griffith is expected to be arraigned in Sessions Court today. In addition to the state charges, U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents say they intend to seek federal indictments against Griffith for being a convicted felon in possession of firearms and having body armor.
“Griffith has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1976,” Harris said. “He was convicted of felonies in California, and some were violent crimes. He has also been convicted for felonies in at least two other states.”
Harris said the weapons found in the apartment were high quality. “... Only one weapon here could be considered as a hunting rifle.
“There was a sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun and a .270-caliber Smith & Wesson rifle with a scope. These are high-dollar guns. He does not have a job ... He had in cash $2,700 on him when he was booked into the jail. I find that fact suspicious.”
Later today, a racial-epithet slinging match between a black guy and a white guy erupted in the library, which had us all just poised on the brink of dialing 911 and now that I'm home, I had to call the cops on a couple arguing in front of my apartment building. I didn't recognize these people at all. The guy kept yelling at the girl, "Who gave me away? Who gave me away?" He kept getting more and more in her space and when she tried to walk away from him, he threw his arm around her neck in a sort of a choke hold. They were that way when the cops drove up. The cops separated them, kept them on the sidewalk about 50 feet away from each other for a grand total of maybe two minutes, TOPS, then gave the girl about a 10-second head start and then turned the guy loose too. He took off right after her and had overtaken her before they got to the end of the block, crossed the street with her and they both disappeared in the darkness. There were three cop cars parked on my corner and they sat there, with their blues flashing, leaning up against their cars, for at least fifteen minutes AFTER they let these people go. Just yakking. I mean, obviously on a coffee break. I called this in as a heated, threatening-looking argument that I described as looking about to turn violent at any moment, and he had her in a choke hold when they came up. And this is what they did. Maybe she did say to them that she wasn't afraid of him, but that was not what her body language was saying to me. And shouldn't have said to them either. My point is, he had hands on her when they came up, how could they make the determination in that length of time that she was in no danger from him? And they watched him take off right after her, catch up with her and disappear. They had not searched either one of them for a weapon. The cops did absolutely nothing but strobe their stupid fucking lights around the neighborhood serving no purpose whatsoever except maybe to make sure nobody missed the fact that they were cops and to better highlight their ass-scratching performance art piece of leaning on their tax-payer provided vehicles. It was all I could do not to yell out the window, "Y'all need some donuts to go with that, boys?"