There was a story on our local television station about a neighboring county Sheriff Department SWAT team being put into action. The reporter struggled to make the story a story. Let me see if I can help, as there was less to the story than met the eye. Of course, I was not there, and this is pure embellishment, prevarication, or foolishness, depending on your point of view. I personally think the militarization of our local law enforcement officers sometimes goes too far. Regardless, here is my fabrication which is not nearly so ominous as what was actually reported by the media, which came strictly from the Sheriff department’s press release.
Froward, Mississippi 1/29/14
After a verbal altercation with a family member yesterday evening, a man barricaded himself in his home, prompting the call out of the Froward County Sheriff’s SWAT team to end the barricade
Willie Johnson, 46, 141 Johnson Road (4th mailbox on the right) just outside the Froward city limits off Hwy 21, was arrested after a SWAT team standoff resulting from a verbal altercation with his brother, Billie Johnson, who is also the former Johnson’s next door neighbor. Witnesses said that Willie and Billie got into an argument over who had paid for the last bag of feed for the hunting dogs they own together that are kept in a kennel split by their property line. The argument escalated and Willy threw his hands up in the air, returning to his home in defiant resignation, and demanded that his brother leave him alone.
Entering his own home, Willie locked the door, refusing to open it despite his brother’s repeated attempts to coax him out. Shouting could be heard from inside the house as a witness said that Willy threatened violence against anyone who tried to force their way through his front door and into his home.
An anonymous call to the Froward County 911 dispatch alerted the Sheriff’s department and resulted in a SWAT team response to the barricade situation. Fourteen deputies dispatched in nine patrol cars, each wearing black body armor and toting fully-automatic weapons took a position in front of the home. Chief Deputy Marcus Barker tried to reason with Willie to open the door and come out and give himself up, but Willie refused to do so.
“Give up for what? All I did was lock my front door!” one witness reported Willie as shouting to Chief Deputy Barker through the locked front door. Other witnesses said that Willie and his brother had been drinking prior to the altercation.
Reinforcements arrived after repeated failed attempts to gain entry, and the county’s new armored personnel carrier loaded with six fully equipped deputies and sniper rifles arrived on the scene and the SWAT team completely surrounded the house with the snipers taking strategic positions. After repeated unheeded demands by Barker through a bull horn while standing in the turret of the armored vehicle, the deputies moved in to take Willie and defuse the barricade stand-off.
“I saw pretty near the whole thing,“ said Amelia Winsome, a neighbor and beauty operator with her shop across the road from the quarreling brothers. “The sheriffs come in all them cars and that tank to get Willie outta there, but Willie don’t wanna go. He’s hard headed like that, so they rammed the door in with a battering ram and threw in one of them flash-bang grenades. There was a big flash and a loud bang. I heard it and seen it. They rushed in and captured Willie then, and brought him out in handcuffs and throwed him in the back of a squad car and took off, sirens all a wailing. They backed over my mailbox with that tank as they was turning around, too.”
Further questioning of witnesses revealed that Willie had firearms in his house, some of which were loaded. Two shotguns, various rifles, and several handguns, along with several hundred rounds of ammunition were recovered from Willie’s gun cabinet and seized by the deputies. Also seized was a half-empty twelve pack of Bud-Light.
Willie Johnson was booked into the Froward County jail on charges of resisting arrest, failure to obey a police officer, public intoxication, and disturbing the peace. His brother, Billie, immediately bonded him out of jail on a personal recognizance bond.
Later, neighbors stated that they had heard no disturbance until all the police cars showed up at Willie’s house, and the entire neighborhood stopped what they were doing to see what all the commotion was about. No one knew who might have placed the call to 911, but it was suggested that another neighbor, a former paramour of Willie, may have been they caller.
“She ain’t got no use for Willie any more,” a neighbor said.
“I was right in the middle of a blue-hair dye job on an elderly customer when I heard it all and run outside to see what was going on. Before they got there, I didn’t hear nothing,’ said Winsome. “I sure heard that flash-bang and that bull horn, though. I spilt that blue-hair dye all over Sister Rosie when it went off. It just rurnt her clothes. Somebody will have to pay for that seeing as she’s on a fixed income and all. She can hardly afford to get her hair done as it is, and them was some long roots showing on her and all.”
Upon release from the Froward County jail, Willie joined his brother and it was overheard that they were planning to go straight down to the feed store and split the price of a 50 pound sack of Hunter’s Pride dog food.
“I admit I was a bit drunk, well maybe tight is a better word….but I was in my own house which ain’t no public place,” said Willie. “I locked my door and refused to come out. The sheriff can’t tell me to just come out of my own house for no reason, even if he does have a SWAT team surrounding it like I was trying to get away or something. The only thing I was trying to get away from was my brother, but we’re OK now, me and Billie. They took my guns and all my bullets, which I expect I will have back by tomorrow.”
He hugged his brother and they got in to the car and drove off to The Farm and Feed, refusing to answer any further questions.
Several attempts were made to contact the Sheriff and the District Attorney. Spokesperson’s for both offices declined comment citing an ongoing investigation and pending litigation.
A neighbor of the Johnson’s reported that three Froward County Deputies were at Johnson’s house measuring for a new front door and two others were seen installing a new mailbox and post at Winsome’s Salon of Beauty. The county is expected to pay for the repairs.
Several trial lawyers have contacted the paper about any additional information we might have, but none of them claimed to actually represent Johnson as of yet.