For Immediate Release
September 24, 2019
ATLANTA – A fire investigator with the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office has determined that a
structure fire which occurred the morning of Saturday, September 14, in Fannin County was intentionally set.
“The home is located at 1588 Mountain View Road in McCaysville, Georgia. The 52-year-old structure suffered
major damage from the blaze,” said Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King. “The home was occupied up until the
day before the fire. If you have any information on who might be responsible for setting this fire, please call the
Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King is asking anyone with knowledge about this fire to call the Arson Hotline at
1‐800‐282‐5804. Rewards are offered of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the
arsonist(s). Calls are taken 24 hours a day and callers can choose to remain anonymous.
The Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Sheriff’s Office, and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are assisting with this investigation.
Fannin County EMA/EMS
Director Robert Graham
20 Station Ridge
Blue Ridge, Ga. 30513
September 8, 2019 thru September 14, 2019 Responses
Gilmer EMS: 1
Polk EMS: 2
Includes 13 out of town transfers
Total Emergency Calls: 459
Total Incoming Phone Calls (911 and Admin): 985
McCaysville, Ga. – James Larry Parris, Jr., age 51, is facing multiple felony charges after an incident that occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 30. The incident, a hostage situation, led to police using lethal force to bring the situation to an end.
Details are emerging of the events that happened shortly after midnight in the City of McCaysville.
The McCaysville Police Department responded to a housing authority apartment complex after Fannin County dispatch received a 911 call. According to dispatch, Parris stated during the 911 call that no one was leaving the apartment alive.
Patrolman Bill Higdon was first on the scene and upon arriving at the apartment was immediately faced with an armed and belligerent Parris.
Parris had allegedly forced entry into the apartment, which is occupied by his ex-wife. A male friend of the female victim and a minor were also present at the time.
While Parris and his ex-wife have been divorced for many years, sources tell FetchYourNews that Parris had become enraged upon hearing that the male friend was present in the home. According to sources Parris and the unnamed male victim are blood related.
Patrolman Higdon established that Parris was armed with a 20 gauge shotgun and that there were three hostages present at scene.
Parris told Higdon “not to come in the apartement” and verbally threatened the officer and hostages with bodily harm. At this point Higdon requested further assistance, to which McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley, Detective Captain Billy Brackett, Patrolman Cory Collogan, as well as members of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded.
Earley, Brackett, and Higdon attempted to negotiate with Parris. Earley told FetchYourNews that negotiations with Parris “went on for quite some time and initially seemed to be successful”. Through these negotiations Parris had agreed to put down his weapon and let the officers enter the apartment.
Once officers began to enter, however, Parris rearmed himself, picking up the shotgun and pointing it at officers while shouting, “Get out! Get out of this house!”.
With the immediate threat that Parris posed to the officers, Chief Earley took measures to end the situation and fired upon Parris, disarming the gunman and allowing time for officers to move in and make an arrest.
Parris was airlifted to a Metro Atlanta hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Parris was released from the hospital on Thursday, Sep. 5.
McCaysville Police Chief Earley, Capt. Brackett, and Officer Mark Chastain, were present at the hospital to escort Parris back to Fannin County.
Paris is currently being held at the Fannin County Detention Facility where he faces the following charges:
- Firearm/Knife possession while committing or attempting to commit a crime
- Criminal Attempt (A person commits the offense of criminal attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, they perform any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime)
- Cruelty to ChildrenBurglaryDamage to and intrusion upon property
- 3 Counts False Imprisonment
- 6 Counts Aggravated Assualt
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Special Olympics Golf Tournament was held on Wednesday, July 30, 2019 at the Old Toccoa Farm on Curtis Switch Road in Blue Ridge.
Because of the number of pictures taken during the event, all pictures will be posted into an album on the official Fetch Your News Facebook page, which may be found in our Album here.
The video may be viewed below!
The schedule of events, along with the names of the athletes are as follows:
9:00 – 9:25 – Arrival of Athletes and Guests
9:30 – Opening Ceremony – Welcome and Athletes Oath
9:35 – Level 2 Unified competition – 9 holes
1st Group – Jeff, Rick, Guests Dave and Eric
2nd Group – Joe, Debbie, Laney and Alex
10:00 – Level 1 Skills competition – normal practice area
Short Putt – Amanda, Ansley, and Kari
Long Putt – Guests: Amanda Lane and Jennifer Campbell
Chip Shot – Brandon, Mikey, Jay and Eric
Pitch Shot – Robbie, Kevin, Tommy
11:15 – *Level 1 Skills Competition – Hole #1
*This will require putting the golf clubs and athletes in cars and driving down to parking area near the river
Iron Shot – Amanda, Ansley, Kari and Guests Amanda Lane and Jennifer Campbell
Wood Shot – Brandon. Mikey, Jay, Eric, Robbie, Kevin and Tommy
Noon – Lunch followed by the Medal Ceremony down by the river
Blue Ridge, Ga – Mother of the infant arrested for trying to sell her infant child in ongoing unlawful adoption case in Fannin County.
Christine Queen, 19, and resident of Union County turned herself in to Fannin County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, July 26, at 5:44 p.m.
GBI officer Jamie Abercrombie issued a warrant for her arrest on Thursday, July 25.
Queen’s bond set at $75,000 by the Magistrate Judge Brian Jones. The affidavit for her arrest accused her of unlawful inducement felony for willingly and knowingly conspiring with others to exchange her child for a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee on June 25 in Fannin County.
Queen’s connected with the unlawful adoption case with Rebecca and William McClain. The couple encouraged Queen to part with her child for a vehicle in their home on June 25 between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m.
Abercrombie stated in his affidavit that the McClains knowingly tempted Queen to sell her child while in their home.
The couple cared for the child and had expressed interest in adopting her until the incident occurred. The baby’s now in foster care and doing well.
GBI searched the McClain’s home on Laurel Crossing on Thursday, June 27.
Abercrombie arrested the pair for directly or indirectly holding out an inducement to a biological parent to part with his or her child.
Queen’s felony accusation cited advertising restrictions and requirements as well as unlawful inducements. She stands accused of section (b) of O.C.G.A. 19-8-24 (b); she willingly participated in the offer to sell her child to McClains.
Fannin County Sheriff’s Office booked the two felony charges of unlawful inducement for the McClains – one count for each individual. The couple was unemployed at the time of booking.
Neither McClains nor Queen can contact each other, Queen’s father, child’s father, or child’s caseworker due to terms of their bail.
Union County DFCS employed Rebecca McClain in the past and are currently assisting with the GBI investigation.
Over the last week and a half BKP and I have been going from school to school interviewing head football coaches for our North Georgia Coaching Series. Now if any of y’all know BKP, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he’s been doing most of the talking and I’ve been doing most of the observing. But this doesn’t bother me, it gives me a chance to learn more about the programs I’ll be spending a lot of time with this fall.
With that being said, there’s one thing in particular I’ve been noticing in our interviews, and that’s how much these coaches truly care about their players and their programs.
Now me saying that might make some of y’all think, “Well, duh. That’s what they’re supposed to do.” Well, maybe. But I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up when someone is just putting on an act for appearances. And I can say with all sincerity that none of these coaches are doing that.
Obviously when BKP and I go into these interviews, he asks questions about what the teams have been doing during the summer and how they’re planning to prepare for the regular season. But he also asks the coaches if they can highlight a few players that have really stood out. This point in the interview, I believe, is where a coach who didn’t care would possibly just say a couple names and move on.
But these coaches not only name the players, they tell us about why they stand out. And it’s a sign of the hard work of these athletes, but there’s also a sense of pride from these coaches as they name them. A couple of coaches have mentioned that it’s hard to name just a few, because all of their players have worked hard. And it’s not that the rest of the team doesn’t matter or that they don’t care about them, but the ones that they mention they do so without hesitation because they’ve been there with them through the summer truly coaching them. There’s no so-so about the commitment these coaches make- they’re all in.
Another thing that has amazed me about these coaches, not just in the interviews but learning about them off the field, is how much they care about their community as well. A couple of them, such as Chad Cheatham at Fannin County and Chad McClure at Hayesville, are natives to their communities. It’s home to them, and they’re not going to be just halfway in their commitments to their programs.
When Coach Caleb Sorrells of the Lumpkin County Indians was first named as head coach, the school hosted a meet and greet for him. It was one of the first stories I covered in this position.
In his address to the parents, Sorrells promised to not only invest in the team as players and athletes, but as men who would one day be employees and fathers. I remember being caught off guard at first because I was expecting him to talk about plans for the future of the program, the summer schedule and what not. He did talk about these things, but I believe by telling the parents that he was going to invest in the players as men showed that it was going to be a priority.
Although I know more about the commitment that Sorrells has made because I’m positioned in Lumpkin County, he’s not the only one in the area who gets involved in the community and works to build up the athletes’ character.
Tim Cokely with the White County Warriors has an entire wall of his office decorated with signs of good character qualities to instill in the team. Chad Cheatham, who I mentioned earlier, referees basketball in the football off-season just because, and the community loves him for it. I’m sure that many of the other coaches in the area do similar things and I just don’t know about it yet.
These are commitments that we see played out by coaches in movies and don’t always think to look for in real life. And because I grew up in Gwinnett County, population one million, if there was this sort of commitment by coaches I didn’t always see it because there were so many people. I love living up here in North Georgia in a smaller community where an act of kindness, especially where sports are concerned, rarely goes unnoticed.
We think about football as a sport that instills a since of discipline, but why is that? Because there’s a coach that sets that standard and inspires the team to do the same. As a community we love football and we love our team, and we can thank a coach for that.
McCaysville, Ga – McCaysville Police arrested Christel Champion for stealing and drug possession of Methamphetamine in United Community Bank parking lot.
Champion, 25, spotted running out of Family Dollar with a bulging black bag full of stolen goods, approximately $57.47. She jumped into a beat-up silver Ford Fusion, driven by Haley Dillingham before the pair sped off toward Copperhill.
Polk County Deputies Patterson and Henderson responded to the call. McCaysville Police Department notified the deputies that the vehicle was parked in front of United Community Bank. Henderson arrived at the scene first, and Patterson joined after speaking with Family Dollar employees. The female employee chased Champion out of the store after seeing her run to the Fusion.
McCaysville Police Officers and Investigator Billy Brackett began a search of the vehicle and discovered drug paraphernalia Methamphetamine. Brackett took Champion into custody and charged her with a bond violation, shoplifting, and possession of Methamphetamine.
We contacted McCaysville and Investigator Brackett multiple times for comment, but have yet to receive a call back about the case.
Champion posted her bond on Thursday, July 25 of $5,500, but since then Fannin County Sheriff’s Office issued three more warrants for her arrest, including criminal trespass, theft by shoplifting and bond violations. These charges come from May of 2019 and occurred in Blue Ridge.
Dillingham stated that she knew nothing about the shoplifting, but record shoplifting from the store. Patterson issued a criminal trespassing warning and permanently banned Champion and Dillingham from the Ducktown Family Dollar.
Deputy Patterson returned the stolen goods to Family Dollar, which consisted of Monster Energy drinks (4-pack), seven stationary items, three food items, dog food/bowl, two pair of sunglasses and one pack of earrings, one pack of socks, and two household products.
Champion said she intended to eat some of the goods and give the rest to family.
Polk County has warrants for Dillingham and Champion for shoplifting.
McCaysville, Ga – High-speed chase that crossed state lines and reached speeds of 100+ mph and narrowly avoided bystander causalities ended in Shell and Dunkin Donuts parking lot.
Augustine Santiago, 51, sped down Blue Ridge Dr. in McCaysville when Officers Cory Collogen and Bill Higdon spotted him and began pursuit.
It’s unclear why Santiago was driving recklessly as no evidence of drugs or alcohol appeared at the scene. He was operating a vehicle with a suspended license, however.
Santiago, driving a tan Ford F150, picked up speed once Collogen and Higdon began their pursuit of the suspect.
To elude officers, Santiago plowed through his first of several intersections on West Tennessee Street. Collogen and
Higdon turned on their sirens and blue lights at this point before Santiago ran another light onto Ocoee St. in Copperhill and narrowly missed a White Jeep. He also disregarded the safety of pedestrians on the street and sidewalks.
Officers contacted Police Chief Michael Earley to obtain permission to continue pursuit across state and county lines as Santiago turned West onto Belltown Road. They pursued at speeds between 45 to 65 mph along Belltown and Airport Road.
Santiago failed to stop at any of the signs on Belltown, Airport, Pleasant Hill, and Wolfcreek Road. He continually weaved across lanes and drove down the center. Sometime during this point of the chase, officers moved in and obtained tag information to relay to dispatch.
Once reaching Hwy. 64 going toward Murphy, the suspect reached speeds of over 100 mph and periodically lost control of the vehicle before regaining control.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy Struchko and officer Dockery joined in the pursuit as Santiago blew through the Hwy. 19/129 intersection. Struchko took control of the chase at the Splash and Dash Car Wash, and Dockery deployed stop stick at the BB&T bank.
Struchko followed Santiago in the eastbound lane at speeds of 80 mph.
Santiago hit the stop sticks in front of BB&T. He lost control of the vehicle due to his two flat front tires. He veered into the Shell and Dunkin Donuts parking lot, just missing a red jeep in the Dunkin drive-thru.
After exiting his vehicle, Santiago attempted to flee on foot. Struchko drew his weapon and commanded Santiago to stop and lie on the ground. He obeyed, and McCaysville Officer Higdon handcuffed him at 8:51 p.m.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office took Santiago in for attempting to elude police, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended license. His bond is set at $5,000 and is awaiting a court date.