NEW DETAILS: Alcoa man charged with bringing grenade to Waffle House

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

ALCOA (WVLT) A man charged with bringing a hand grenade to an Alcoa restaurant then placing it on his table made his first appearance today in a Blount County courtroom.

57 year old Jack Henry Hensley is charged with violating the terrorism hoax act.

Volunteer TV's Blount County Bureau Chief Stephen McLamb has more.

A Vietnam vet, family members say Jack has mental issues and has not been taking his medication.

Family, friends, and even police say he needs help.

It was a shocking Friday at the Waffle House off Alcoa Highway for people dining just before six am.

Captain Rick Arnold, with the Alcoa PD says, "Mr. Hensley had came into the Waffle House and was eating breakfast and he just pulled a grenade out of his pocket and set it on the table in front of him."

Just the sight of the hand grenade prompted Waffle House employees to call police.

"The business had to be closed for about an h our until a KPD bomb squad technician could get there and make sure it was safe."

Police later learned the grenade did not contain any explosive and was just a training grenade.

Where it came from, police do not know.

Hensley is now charged with violating the Terrorism Hoax Act.

Clifford Debety, Hensley's neighbor and friend says, "Jack's a great neighbor. He's always been good to me and basically he's a good guy. He just needs help."

Debety has been a neighbor of Jack's for several years.

Jack's sister Kathy Whitson says he's had mental problems since his service in Vietnam.

She also says he hasn't been taking his medication regularly, signs even the neighbors have seen.

"But I kinda felt something might come to a head because it seemed like it was just about reached the peak."

Reports show police were called to his Alcoa home last August when he refused to go to the VA Hospital and caused a disturbance.

Judge William R. Brewer ordered Hensley to a mental institution.

Debety continues, "I'm just hoping Jack can get some help."

Arnold says, "I think the guy needs some help and we hope he gets it."

Hensley was ordered to go to a mental facility by the judge today.

His attorney says he will not be allowed to leave the mental facility until he sees the judge again on February 4th.

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