BCSO, DA refuse to identify weapon in hostage incident

By ALLEN MINCEY
Posted 12/8/17

Both the Bradley County Sheriff's Office and the 10th Judicial District Attorney General have refused to identify the type of weapon used by the accused assailant in the Nov. 28 home invasion and …

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BCSO, DA refuse to identify weapon in hostage incident

Posted

Both the Bradley County Sheriff's Office and the 10th Judicial District Attorney General have refused to identify the type of weapon used by the accused assailant in the Nov. 28 home invasion and hostage incident in the Royal Oaks subdivision.

The question has arisen following unofficial reports made to the Cleveland Daily Banner that the firearm used by suspect Mark Clayton Cain was a BB gun designed to be held and fired with one hand.

Despite repeated requests by the Cleveland newspaper, BCSO Communications Director Lt. James Bradford and DA Steve Crump declined to provide the information, citing "court rules" as justification for neither confirming nor denying the type of weapon involved.

A form of handgun was reportedly used by Cain as he held it to the neck of a passenger in his vehicle who was later identified as his girlfriend, Andrea Pridgen. With gun in hand, Cain is reported to have broken into the Royal Oaks home of Virginia Evans Chism, an 83-year-old homeowner who testified earlier this week in a Bradley County preliminary hearing.

Although arrest reports and an affidavit indicated Cain reportedly used the gun in the alleged kidnapping and home invasion, neither identified the type of firearm. The type of weapon used was not brought out in testimony during this week's court appearance by Cain.

Over the past few days, the Banner has received unofficial reports of the type of weapon used; however, requests for confirmation from the BCSO and DA offices have been declined.

In phone conversations, and later in a statement Thursday by Bradford, the communications liaison advised a Banner reporter and editor the agency's decision not to disclose the type of firearm was prompted by the fact the alleged kidnapping and home invasion remain active cases.

"The incident on Royal Oaks Drive is still a pending case and actively being prosecuted by the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office," Bradford said in the prepared statement to the Banner. "In order to be in compliance with their office, we are unable to disclose the description of the weapon used during the incident. It's our agency's understanding that publicizing the information requested would possibly violate court rules regarding evidence in this case. "

No additional comment was provided by Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson.

Crump said Thursday that per the rules of evidence, he could not release that information unless the BCSO chooses to do so. At that point, he said, it would become a matter of public record and he would be allowed legally to comment.

"We cannot comment on the 'nature, quality or quantify' of evidence against a defendant," Crump said. "The Rules of Professional Conduct will not allow it."

Both the BCSO and DA agreed to discuss the type of weapon used, but only if the other disclosed the information first.

In the seven-hour standoff — in which the BCSO and its SWAT team, as well as other emergency responders, were acting on the information they had available at the time — Chism was eventually rescued by ladder from a window at the rear of the home. After Cain's alleged break-in, she had barricaded herself in her bedroom and a closet.

In court testimony, Chism said she had no visible contact with Cain, but that she did hear him say he once served as a Marine sniper and had three guns in his possession. Chism had remained on the phone, to Emergency 911, throughout the incident, and told authorities what Cain had claimed.

The type of guns he claimed to have had, as well as the gun he used to move the passenger from his vehicle into the home, were not listed on the incident reports or affidavit against Cain. BCSO Deputy Chris Shope, the officer who made contact with Cain before he broke into Chism's home, also did not identify the gun.

Cain was eventually charged with theft over $1,000, aggravated burglary and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. Bond was set at $500,000 for those charges. Although it was not listed on the arrest report, Cain was also reported to be a fugitive from justice, which carries with it no bond.

Cain's next court appearance is scheduled Feb. 12 in Bradley County Criminal Court.

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