Man caught with gun in courthouse

By: Conroy Delouche Email
By: Conroy Delouche Email

WARTBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - One Morgan County man was arrested after police found a loaded gun in his back pocket.

Johnny Swint told police he didn't know he still had that gun when he walked in to file some paperwork.

That's reignited security talk at the building.

There are four main doors to the Morgan County Courthouse. Until recently, three of them stayed unlocked, while the fourth was blocked.

Last month that changed and now, only one door is open and people going to county offices must pass through a metal detector.

The County Executive says there's too much security at the administrative building. But the Sheriff's Office disagrees.

"Main reason for doing this is for the public safety in the courthouse. So yeah, it's good to see that it's working and doing what it's supposed to do," said Chief Deputy Steve Cochran.

Delores Huling struggled to walk from the handicapped parking spot to the entrance. That's why she fought to access the back door. But locking the other three doors is too much for her.

"The parking lot is all along the courthouse. So when there's court, it takes longer, harder and more time for everyone else to get in here," said Delores Huling.

"It's excessive and it limits the citizens' access to the administrative offices here," said County Executive Don Edwards.

Edwards says most people come here to pay taxes, register deeds and buy tags.

Despite what happened on Thursday, Edwards says he can't worry that just anyone will walk in with a gun.

"But I would have those same concerns not only here, but I would have them at the grocery store, at the bank, at the hardware store," said Edwards.

Edwards says there should only be one scanner in the building, right in front of the courtroom.

"I am for as much security as we possibly need for our courts and our court system when we have court. But we don't have court everyday," said Edwards.

Yes locking three of the doors is restrictive, but police feel they need to take precaution over access.

"We know what can happe, we've seen it happen. We know how it is out here, we deal with it on a daily basis," said Cochran.

The gun arrest comes just three days after Edwards handed the commissioners this memo, calling to reopen all the entrances. But the commission voted that down.

In fact, one commissioner who reached out to me said there should be even more security.

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