ELLIJAY, Ga. – Both protesters and police commented tonight with two words that many have not heard recently in news, a “peaceful protest” in Ellijay concluded despite rain and counter-protests in the area.
Authorities prepared after permits were approved yesterday, June 3, for a planned protest expecting 25 to 30 people in attendance. Even Eloisa Rafael, one of three students who were the organizers of the event along with Pedro Chavez and Nashely Hernandez, said that they were expecting around 25 people when they were planning and speaking with friends.
Instead, what the three students saw, were preliminary estimates closer to 200 people gathered in and around the roundabout in Downtown Ellijay with signs, speeches, and chants for support of the Black Lives Matter movements and for prominent names in both media and movements around the country.
All three of the organizers voiced their surprise and excitement at the larger turnout saying that they felt very encouraged by the level of community support in that way.
As protestors began the rally at 4:00 p.m., organizers called for peace and non-violence as they voiced opinions and chants, one man even stood to call for dialogue with police as he said that without dialogue, there can be no change. One of their first speakers, Pastor Robert Diaz, spoke a prayer over the gathering before offering words of encouragement for equality and rights saying, “We are going to make every effort, every day, to let our kids know, and our society know, that love shall prevail over hate, over discrimination, and whatever else.”
Diaz later said in an interview after the event that he was there to support the Black Lives Matter movement saying, “Obviously, all lives do matter, but in this instance, it is actually the black community that is actually more oppressed. We can see that all over, for decades… We are here as a nation, united, to raise our voice and to let the world know that this has to stop.”
Protesters continued under police supervision throughout their two-hour-long rally with speakers and representatives from the community including ministers and students who called for attention to social issues including the death of George Floyd and other media reports of police violence.
Protest organizer Nashely Hernandez said, “I helped organize this today because people need to stop being judge just because of the color of their skin.”
Others echoed the sentiment saying that the message of love and cooperation was central to what they wanted to convey. Local minister, Reverand Adam Bradley, of the Cherry Log Christian Church said, “Be Love” as he spoke to those gathered and offered his message of loving each other in the community.
After allowing certain community members to step forward to speak as well as prepared speakers, chants rang out through the downtown area as they continued their demonstration. Before long, a second group had formed on North Main Street counter-protesting the demonstration. Police stepped in to keep the groups separate, and while chants and rhetoric came from both sides, police and authorities maintained order in the separation of the groups throughout the rally’s length.
Police involvement stretched beyond one entity, however. The Ellijay Police Department lead permitting and planning for the event. However, authorities present at the event shared information that support and deputies came from all around the area as representatives of the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office and Fannin Sheriff’s Office along with other law enforcement officers from Whitfield and Cherokee Counties.
Protest organizer Pedro Chavez said, “We have had a good interaction with the police. We’ve had good communication. They understand what we’re here to do. They understand that we are here to protest peacefully… We appreciate their assistance, but we are here to protest against police brutality, against discrimination, against racism. But overall, we have had a good interaction with the police department.”
On the police side of the event, Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey said, “We couldn’t hope for a better event.”
He added that situations like today are always tense because of the unknown. But said, “The organizers were upfront with us and worked with us. That showed that they had a legitimate exercise of their first amendment rights.” As he addressed in an interview, one of the key points of the event was that the group pf protesters peacefully gathered and shared their message and peacefully left.
Those protesters pushed on despite counter-protests and even a bout of heavy rainfall, soaking many of those present as the stood in the center of the roundabout with only trees for cover. One protester repeatedly offered prayers throughout the event and continued his offerings through the same rainfall. He said he was protesting and stayed because “I think we all need to come together as a community, the police and the people, and put away the hate with love and prayer. Support Back the Blue and Black Lives Matter.”
Many others also offered support for both movements, including Karen Brown, who said, “There is no justice untill ALL God’s people are equal.”
Brown, a former teacher, referenced the “8 minutes 46 seconds,” a common reference to the death of George Floyd, as she too said that all lives do matter, but “right now the issue is black lives.”
As the rally concluded and protesters dispersed, many offered statements saying this is only the beginning and promises to each other that they would see them again soon. Eloisa Rafael also said she expects more, “I expect for this not to be the end of it. I expect for Ellijay to keep growing, keep changing, and understand that we are all equal.”
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Confirmation has come from East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan about a break-in at South State Bank in East Ellijay involving a local man.
According to a booking report from the Gilmer Detention Center, Charles Jake Yarbrough was arrested for allegedly breaking into and damaging the business at 2:50 a.m. today, April 6, 2020.
While the Police Chief has confirmed the incident, he noted that some details are still unclear and the police are still working the case. According to the Police’s Incident Report, a fire alarm was triggered at South State Bank just before 1:00 a.m. As Fire units responded, they reported now showing of a fire, but an open door and requested law enforcement response. Firefighters found a person inside of the bank as they investigated.
When police arrived, they investigated and found damage to doors, door sensors, a glass security box, door locks, and other items. The reports also indicate that as Yarbrough was placed into custody, he allegedly pulled a plug on a rear camera inside of a patrol vehicle.
Yarbrough allegedly caused damage to the building during the incident and is facing two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge at this time including Burglary – 1st Degree (Felony), Interference with Government Property (Felony), and Criminal Damage to Property – 2nd Degree (Misdemeanor).
He was booked into t he Gilmer County Detention Center with a $17,500 Bond.
According to Chief Callahan, it does not appear that any accounts, information, money, or safety boxes were accessed during the incident.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer will host the Georgia National Guard tomorrow morning, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in order to perform sanitation on Parkside Ellijay and assist staff with training measures on sanitation and cleaning methods..
Days ago, the National Guard posted an article on their website by Maj. William Carraway. The article stated, “The Georgia National Guard is sending infection-control teams to nursing homes around the state to help limit the spread of COVID-19.”
“Our mission is to assist in disinfecting nursing homes,” said Col. John Till, safety officer for the Georgia Department of Defense, who is training the teams. “We are going to help decontaminate and disinfect rooms in which these citizens are quarantined to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
As for why they are coming, the Gilmer Public Safety Director Keith Kucera gave a prepared statement today saying, “Gilmer County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) was in contact with GEMA and GA National Guard in reference to a scheduled visit by the National Guard to Gilmer County on Tuesday, 07 April 2020. The GA National Guard, by request from Parkside Ellijay Nursing Care Center, will be at their site to assist and train staff in the proper techniques of cleaning and disinfecting. This visit by the National Guard is for preventative measures and training purposes only. The soldiers on site will demonstrate the proper wearing of decontamination suits and N-95 respirators to the nursing care center staff along with CDC guidance on cleaning specific to nursing homes. These services have been provided to numerous nursing care centers across the state by the National Guard. Gilmer County EMA welcomes this visit as these soldiers are here providing a requested humanitarian service to the Parkside Ellijay Nursing Care Center. We thank them for their service to the State of Georgia and to our Country.”
As they come to Ellijay tomorrow, local authorities are now making comments on the visit as well. The Ellijay Police Department posted to social media today saying, “Knowing our community, especially our online community, we wanted to preemptively get this information out so no one will be alarmed.”
Before the guard appears and citizens begin questioning authorities, County Commission Chairman Paris noted that Gilmer is now under the State’s order for sheltering at this time. Many also recall that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s order overtook local orders by cities and counties.
Working alongside the facility, Carraway’s article stated, “The infection control teams are the latest example of innovation by Georgia National Guard leaders and planners. These teams did not exist a week ago. They follow in the footsteps of the Georgia National Guard’s medical assistance teams (MATS), which are embedded at hospitals across Georgia. The MATs, composed of Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen with backgrounds in medicine and health, were created and employed the past two weeks.”
Parkside Ellijay shares an actual building connection to the Piedmont Emergency Room in Ellijay. Ellijay Police assured citizens during the coming action saying, “All is well. There is no curfew. No one is taking over. No martial law. Just citizen warriors coming to assist local folks with training and information.” Similarly, the City of Woodstock made a public statement of the same activity in there city on social media this morning.
Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, the adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, said in Carraway’s article, “The Georgia National Guard stands ready to assist any long-term care facility in this time of need through staff training and implementation of infectious disease control measures. Our training has prepared us to fight this virus, and we are eager to lend a hand in this battle.”
WOODSTOCK, Ga. – Reports from the Woodstock Police Department have confirmed the arrest of an Ellijay man for alleged involvement in a hit and run in Cherokee County.
According to their public release yesterday, February 3, the “Woodstock Police, in partnership with the Cherokee County Multi-Agency Crash Investigation Unit, arrested Tracy Lee Wilson, 47, of Ellijay following an investigation into a pedestrian fatality accident this morning. Wilson is charged with Felony Hit and Run with additional charges possibly pending.”
Those additional possible charges could come as Police also reported that the Hit and Run Victim was pronounced dead later that day.
They stated the accident occurred at approximately 6:50 on the morning of February 3, officers were dispatched to a call of a person struck by a vehicle on Highway 92 at Sharon Way. “The pedestrian, identified as 18-year-old Sarahfina Okole, was transported to a local hospital where she was later pronounced deceased.”
Other reports indicate that Investigators followed up on leads, and Wilson was located through the investigation at a Woodstock business where he was taken into custody.
Wilson was taken into custody and held at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center with an $8,450.00 bond. It is FYN’s understanding that Wilson has since been released on that bond, but has not confirmed this at this time.
The investigation is ongoing at this time.
Two weeks after the Christmas event called “Shop with a Hero,” as most of Gilmer County prepares for the new year. A story comes in from one of those who volunteered for the event.
Attending the event as a reporter is one thing, many people focus on the aspect of helping the community and the joy on the kids faces. But some may notice something more. Looking around, there was more than just kids and families there. There were more people affected than just those who were helped. Reaching out to the agencies who participated, FYN got a very special response from one officer who volunteered. Take a moment and feel this story from Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey:
Captain Ray Grace of Ellijay Police Department has been talking about his desire to have a Shop with a Cop type program for at least three years. We recently had a criminal case which required the assistance of the GBI and as such we spend a lot of time with GBI Special Agent Renea Green. One day (about 8 weeks before our event) SA Green, Capt. Grace, and myself were in Captain Grace’s office when the topic of this type of program came up. Special Agent Green became very excited and we found that she had worked first hand with a similar program in Bartow County. As the conversation bumped around the room the creative juices flowed between Grace and Green and by the end of the day they were fully committed to making sure this program came to fruition.
The decision was made to not just do a “Shop with a Cop” program, but to include all public safety in Gilmer County. The name Shop with a Hero was born. Since the Ellijay Police Foundation has been up and running for a couple of years now, it was deemed the perfect vehicle for the program as it has civilian oversight in a non-public safety affiliated board of directors. We had a meeting with all public safety department and agency heads and school officials and the program was off and running. We originally planned to try to sponsor 25 children in our school system for a $150 shopping trip to Walmart with $75 mandatory spent on clothes and the other $75 on anything the child wanted to purchase (within reason, of course). It was just a few weeks of support flowing in when we had met our goal and we noticed that we were going to be able to do so much more than we originally planned.
Soon we were financially able to sponsor 52 children. At first we thought about focusing on youth who were in foster care and/or identified by DFACS as children in need. But in our hearts we knew that there were other children that had not been “touched by the system” that were just as needy. We knew that there were many programs out there to help with foster care, CASA, and DFACS but realized that these other children often go overlooked. That’s when we decided to involve those who know the children the best – our counselors from the Gilmer Schools.
It was amazing to see all of public safety working together with private businesses and the public school system to take care of these children in need. The financial support surpassed our dreams. Soon we realized that we could do more than just sponsor shopping with 52 children. We paid off the lunchroom debt of one school, set up a system to provide school counselors the ability to purchase shoes, jackets, and other necessary clothes (year round) for children that were in need. The folks at Walmart, especially Tom (manager) were awesome. They just kept on giving support. Their efforts provided a huge amount of food for the High School food pantry.
When the day of the event came, I had asked not to shop with a child unless it was the last resort. I didn’t want to take the opportunity away from any police officer, dispatcher, or fire fighter. When the leadership nodded at me and paired me up with a 10 year old girl, I must admit that I was a bit out of my element. Although I have a 3 year old granddaughter, I am the father of sons and don’t know much about shopping with girls. I didn’t know what to expect.
It was not long before my heart strings were tugged hard. First I learned that her grandmother was with us because her mother had recently passed away from an illness. Next came what truly revealed this precious girl’s heart. She did not shop for herself first, but purchased Christmas gifts for 5 friends and then a small toy for her cat. When I asked, “Okay, do you need any clothes?” she told me that she was singing in church on Sunday evening and needed something to wear. I said, “Really? What church” to which she replied, “First Baptist”. It was not until this point that I knew that she was involved in the music program at my church and that she would be singing during the same program as my wife on Sunday evening. That’s when I remembered what an old friend once told me, “There are no coincidences. Only God at work”.
She picked out a few clothes but I could see that she had her eyes on a red sequined romper. She picked it up a few times and put it back. I leaned over to her grandmother and asked, “What’s she doing” and was told, “she’s worried about spending too much money”. I had been keeping track of the budget and noticed that we had spent about $50. I went over to her and said, “Get it. It’s okay, just get it”. Her face lit up and then we went and got some shoes, and earrings. Surprisingly, she didn’t really get any toys for herself, but stocked up on paints and craft supplies. Soon, with a quick hug and photo op, we were out of there to go our separate ways.
I couldn’t wait for Sunday evening. I can’t tell you how great it was to see her all dressed up in the church musical on Sunday evening. They sounded wonderfully. She wasn’t the least shy in singing or performing and looked awesome in her sequin romper, white sweater, grey shoes, and sparkly earrings.
One thing I’ve learned after 30 years of law enforcement is that the “warm and fuzzy” moments which shed light upon why we do what we do are rare. When these happen we cling to them as the sustenance that gets us through the darkness. If this were my last warm and fuzzy moment of my career, this one would sustain me until then.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Authorities from Gilmer County Public Safety, East Ellijay Police, and Ellijay Fire are currently responding to what witnesses are calling a major accident at the intersection of First Avenue and Highwy 515 near Hardee’s.
Authorities have shut down the Northbound lane of Hwy 515 at this time as they assist with those involved and attempt to clear the road.
East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan has confirmed one person is in critical condition. There are also at least two others classified as injured, but are well enough to be walking.5
Citizens should use Highway 52 to travel past the accident before returning to Highway 515 Northbound via Greenfield Road. FYN has reached out to authorities for comment on the clean-up and condition of the accident and is awaiting a response as they continue to respond to the incident.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County had plenty to celebrate this weekend during “Shop with a Hero” as volunteers from all over the county, and some outside the county, joined forces to provide a memorable and excited Saturday morning for local kids.
The First Annual “Shop with a Hero” event punctuated the Christmas season in Gilmer with a special note as not only a sign of continued cooperation between agencies but as a magical answer to families providing a special day to hang out with heroes from public service and to spend some time shopping for Christmas clothes and toys.
In years past, many will recall ‘0Shop with a Cop’ events that operated similarly to this. The major difference is that, now, every agency offers representatives and volunteers to come together and share time with the public apart from their daily capacities.
Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said on Saturday that this is what law enforcement is really about. Coming together to help the community and to be with the community. Days like this weekend’s Shop with a Hero are the key points of their service to the public as well as a way to be seen in uniform but outside of the common interactions like traffic stops, fighting fires, medical emergencies, and other duties they perform.
The day proceeded with a morning breakfast with the children and their families as Mr. P’s donated over 200 biscuits to feed everyone. As they ate, the heroes walked around introducing themselves and spoke with many of the families while Santa Claus also visited. With breakfast completed, a full procession paraded through Ellijay and East Ellijay with full lights and sirens as the children rode a bus through town, down Maddox Drive, then onto Highway 515 and on to Walmart where each volunteer was paired with a child to shop with. Some volunteers brought their family members as well to share in the experience.
But the focus of the day was on the children as they spent nearly two hours with their officer, deputy, firefighter, or official they were paired with. Each child received a gift card of $150. They had to spend at least $75 on clothes and $75 on whatever they wanted, be it more clothes, toys, snacks, or whatever else.
As the day progressed, each child and their hero spent their time shopping and talking along with their family before moving to two designated check out lanes only for use with the Shop with a Hero event. And that still wasn’t enough for the event and those involved. That morning, the children were given a “Shop with a Hero” t-shirt to wear throughout the day and keep. As the children finished their day of shopping, most of them just after noon, they turned in their event badges and were given a stocking to take home, already holding some small stocking stuffer toys and candy.
Going even further, certain volunteers including Sheriff Stacy Nicholson himself, manned donation tables for people who just happened to be in Walmart that day. The store pre-made 486 bags of food to be sold for donation. As citizens bought these bags, they were moved from the tables to a donation bin to be donated to the Gilmer High School food pantry. They sold every single bag and still had people donating more on top of that. The excess funds were put into holding accounts to be used for next year’s event.
The event was sponsored by the Ellijay Police Foundation as a 501c3, but the event was the brainchild of Cpt. Ray Grace of the Ellijay Police Department and GBI (Georgie Bureau of Investigation) Agent Renea Green. It sponsored 52 kids to go shopping with local heroes.
The event saw representatives from the Ellijay Police Department, the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office, East Ellijay Police Department, Ellijay Fire, Gilmer Fire & Rescue, Gilmer County Public Safety, the GBI, Georgia State Patrol, and the Department of Natural Resources as they came to spend time with these families.
But more than just these men and women, volunteers from the Gilmer Board of Education and the county’s elementary and middle school administations, along with donations and volunteers from local businesses donating time and money all came together to create the special day.
In just six weeks of preparation, Gilmer County raised $13,000 in locally sourced money that went right back into a local event helping local people.
These sponsors included Southern Customs, Parks Truck Center, United Contracting, Chateau Meichtry Vineyard, Bryant Physical Therapy, Aaron Family Orchards, Ott Farms and Vineyard, CMB Management Company, King Mechanical Services, Engelheim Vineyards, Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza, Artful Ellijay, Walmart, Ellijay Convenient, B.J. Reece Orchards, Nancy Cochran Maddox Attorney at Law, Pilgrim’s, David P. Garner DBA Garner Group Enterprises, United Community Bank, Cartecay Baptist Church, Winslow Real Estate Services, and many other anonymous business and private citizen donations including Sheriff’s Deputies who donated $100 to be allowed to grow beards during December while serving on duty.
With the major success that this event saw, talks are already working towards next year. Though nothing is set for next year yet, the event coordinators have said that many of the donations have already promised the same or more to the event. They did say they have had such an overwhelming response they could already have enough to at least duplicate the event next year.
See more photos from the event at FYN’s Facebook Photo Album.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – After last week’s news developments following the North Georgia Diamond store burglary and subsequent arrests, a new update arose yesterday as the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office brought the stolen merchandise back to Gilmer.
On December 4, 2019, the East Ellijay location of North Georgia Diamond, on Highland Crossing, was broken into late that night. As of now, authorities still have not released a specific total value of the merchandise that was stolen, but Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson did offer preliminary estimates during the investigation that it could be between $150,000 and $200,000.
On December 5, 2019, just before 9 p.m., two suspects were arrested in south Georgia after fleeing from police during a traffic stop. These two were later tied to the diamond theft through the cooperation and efforts of the Turner County Sheriff’s Office and Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office. Since the arrest, authorities have continued their investigation and collection of evidence related to the crime.
Yesterday, December 10, 2019, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Stacy Nicholson used the evidence collected from the vehicle the two suspects were driving when they fled police as a part of the investigation. This short video and photo were provided by the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office as Bill Craig, an owner of North Georgia Diamond, identified the merchandise in cooperation with the investigation.
As the investigation continues, the Sheriff’s Office has already filed burglary charges against the two male suspects. They will face trial here in Gilmer County for these charges after facing charges in Turner County for the traffic violations and fleeing from police.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Reports have been confirmed at this time that two suspects have been apprehended in the investigation into Wednesday night’s, December 4, 2019, break-in and theft at North Georgia Diamond in East Ellijay, Georgia.
Kimmone Alexander Stewart, 22, of Orlando, Florida, and Tyreke Marquise McCloud, 21, also of Orlando, Florida, were apprehended on December 5, 2019, just before 9 p.m. in Turner County in South Georgia.
According to a statement from Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, the Sheriff’s Department responded to a request from East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan to assist in the investigation of the theft. However, due to the extensiveness of the crime scene and the dollar amount in merchandise stolen, the Sheriff’s Office requested additional aid from the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation).
Nicholson went on to say that through the investigation, authorities were able to recover video footage of two African-American males entered the building by breaking through the front glass. They were also able to determine the suspects were driving a Dodge Charger. With this information, Nicholson said the Sheriff’s Office put out regional requests for “like crimes in other jurisdictions.”
With more evidence still being processed and analyzed, information came in today from the Turner County Sheriff’s Office who had arrested two African American males driving a Dodge Charger and matching the description of the suspects involved in the diamond theft.
Nicholson recounted that Turner County Deputies had attempted a traffic stop of the Charger, but the vehicle fled police. The chase ultimately resulted in the Charger crashing and the two suspects being apprehended by deputies. However, Nicholson said the deputies also found a large amount of jewelry in the vehicle during their processing of the scene. Turner County began reaching out for information on related crimes.
Currently, Sheriff Nicholson said they are processing more evidence tying these two to the North Georgia Diamond theft and break-in, and through further cooperation with Gilmer County Detectives, looking at the evidence in Turner County, detectives were able to connect these two men to the crime. However, the Sheriff’s Office is only releasing this preceding information at this time. He said they will be charging the two with one count of burglary each and are pursuing warrants drafted to bring the suspects back to Gilmer County to stand trial for the theft after Turner County finishes with its traffic charges for the two suspects.
Nicholson went on to say, “Although there was a lot of good police work that went in to the initial investigation of this case. It always helps to have a little luck on your side when you’re investigating a burglary. I personally give a lot of credit to the Turner County Sheriff’s Office for helping us solve this crime.”
Bill and Alison Craig, owners of North Georgia Diamond, were unable to be reached for comment directly. However, official statements from North Georgia Diamond said,”Thank you to Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, Captain Brian Shepard and his Investigation Team, GCSO, East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan, Shane Bowman, Tommy Long, The GBI, and all the other members of their departments. We also wish to thank the Turner County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance. We would also like to thank the team from DC Glass for putting our showcases back together in record time. Our wonderful community reached out in so many ways with prayer and offers to help and it worked. This is amazing news and well, We are having a DOOR BUSTER SALE with half off gold and diamond jewelry til close today and another special sale tomorrow. We are beyond excited about this development.”
In a surprise turn, information of the suspects apprehension came today on the same day that North Georgia Diamond has officially reopened after the incident, December 6, 2019. With quick repairs and replacements, a statement yesterday from North Georgia Diamond said, “There are still a few cases that need new glass (that will happen Saturday) and we may be a bit stressed but we will not let this senseless break in get us down.”
In fact, as if in opposition to the diamond theft, North Georgia Diamond has already announced two sales going on this weekend, quickly returning to not only normal business, but showing resilience against both the break-in and the loss of merchandise at the time.
Nicholson stated, “It would appear, at this time, that at least a large portion of the stolen merchandise from North Georgia Diamond was recovered by the good work of the Turner County Deputies.”
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Owners of North Georgia Diamond in Gilmer County have confirmed a break-in and theft occurred in their showroom last night, December 4, 2019.
According to a statement by North Georgia Diamond, the business is already beginning to recover and are looking to return to business this weekend.
So far, East Ellijay Police, Gilmer’s Sheriff’s Office, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) have all been reported to be involved in the investigation. FYN has reached out to these agencies for comment and is awaiting a response.
Additionally, North Georgia Diamond has confirmed that with the break-in happening overnight, no injuries came from the incident. However, there was damage to the building and equipment.
With the investigation ongoing, North Georgia Diamond released a statement saying, “Nobody got hurt and we will get through this. Thanks to all of the law enforcement personnel that have been on the seen this morning. East Ellijay PD, Gilmer County Sheriffs Office, GBI, and anyone else I am leaving out. They are the best. Stay tuned for more info as to when we can get back up and running. We have a wonderful community and we will have a Merry Christmas.”
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Confirmed by a representative inside the Gilmer County Charter School System, the campuses of Gilmer High School, Mountain View Elementary, and the Larry Walker Education Center, as well as the campus of North Georgia Christian Academy went into a soft lock down today, October 21, 2019.
FYN learned that the lock down was caused by an investigation in the area. Schools were advised to go on lock down for protection as it was said it was not directly involving the schools. This was later confirmed by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office who stated in a public release, “The investigation that caused schools to be put on “lock out” has been completed by Ellijay Police Department. The investigation was unfounded and everything is to go back to normal operations soon.”
Schools are currently returning to normal operation as the Police Department is wrapping up its operations. There is no available information about the investigation itself at this time, but authorities are contacting schools to resolve the issue. North Georgia Christian Academy said it had contacted parents about the incident but declined to comment publicly about the lock down.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – An arrest has been made in Ellijay this week on five counts of felony charges. Confirmed to have worked for the Fire Department, Michael Paul Chester was taken into custody by the Ellijay Police Department.
Chester is facing charges of False Imprisonment, Criminal Trespass, Harassing Phone Calls, Terroristic Threats and Acts – Felony, and Criminal Damage to Property – 2nd Degree. Bond was set at $4,500 according to the Booking Report. As of late Thursday night, Chester was still in custody.
As the investigation continues with the Ellijay Police Department, some sources say this is not the first time he has been in trouble and has even received warnings for behavior before, however, authorities have not confirmed these reports or released additional information on the investigation. FYN is currently reaching out to authorities for further details.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – According to reports, Ellijay City Police Officers made a Human Trafficking arrest around 1:00 a.m. on Friday, September 13, 2019. The incident occurred when an officer performed a traffic stop on a 2019 Blue Toyota Prius on Old Highway 5 and continued to the hospital.
According to a press release, “Officer Brandon Heath of the City of Ellijay Police Department conducted a traffic stop at Old Highway 5 and Bobcat Trail in Ellijay, Georgia to investigate a vehicle which failed to dim headlights and had no working tag light.”
The driver, 26-year-old Cordarrel William Blandburg, allegedly told officials he was taking his fiancé, the female passenger in the vehicle, to the hospital for possible seizures. Officer Heath continued to hospital with the vehicle where the passenger was treated. However, the officer continued investigations. The investigation led officials to discover that Blandburg was not the passenger’s fiance and allegedly had possible gang affiliations.
According to the release, “This led to Officer Heath to confirm that Blandburg did not have an active driver’s license and revealed Blandburg had active warrants out of Clayton County, Georgia for the offenses of Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer and Aggravated Assault. The confirmation of this information resulted in Officer Heath arresting Blandburg.”
The report states the female passenger later explained to officers that Blandburg “was (as explained by the victim) her “owner and enforcer”.” According to Ellijay Police, Blandburg is still in custody at the Gilmer County Detention Center. However, they also stated, “Prior to release from custody, and upon posting bond in Gilmer County, he will be transferred to other jurisdictions having charges on him where he will be required to post additional bond on those charges.”
Further details on the incident and the victim involved are not being released as the investigation continues. However, Ellijay Police have contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as well as Homeland Security Investigations who are now actively assisting in the ongoing and active investigation.
Read the full press release below:
On Friday, September 13, 2019 at 01:00 AM, Officer Brandon Heath of the City of Ellijay Police Department conducted a traffic stop at Old Highway 5 and Bobcat Trail in Ellijay, Georgia to investigate a vehicle which failed to dim headlights and had no working tag light. The driver, 26 year old Cordarrel William Blandburg, was found to be driving without a license and was found to have active warrants from Clayton County Ga. for Obstruction of Police as well as Aggravated Assault. Additional investigation led to information causing the Ellijay Police Department to charge Blandburg with Human Trafficking under OCGA 16-5-46.
Upon initial contact, Blandburg explained to Officer Heath that he was attempting to take his fiancé (female passenger) to the hospital due to possible seizures. The officer followed them to the hospital where the passenger was turned over to medical staff as the officer continued his investigation. This led to Officer Heath to confirm that Blandburg did not have an active driver’s license and revealed Blandburg had active warrants out of Clayton County, Georgia for the offenses of Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer and Aggravated Assault. The confirmation of this information resulted in Officer Heath arresting Blandburg.
Officer Heath continued to investigate the situation and upon doing so he discovered that Blandburg has possible gang affiliations and was not, as he first claimed, the passenger’s fiancé but was (as explained by the victim) her “owner and enforcer”. This continued investigation by Officer Heath led to information that Blandburg was participating in Human Trafficking for Sexual Purposes in violation of OCGA 16-5-46. Ellijay police Detective Doug Colburn began following up on the case and in doing so contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as well as Homeland Security Investigations who are now actively assisting in the ongoing and active investigation.
Blandburg is currently held in the Gilmer County Detention Center on $17,000 bond. Prior to release from custody, and upon posting bond in Gilmer County, he will be transferred to other jurisdictions having charges on him where he will be required to post additional bond on those charges.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Citizens are being encouraged to avoid the intersection of Highway 515 and First Avenue right now as authorities are responding to a major accident.
Additionally, the accident has spread debris across most of the northbound lane of the intersection. Traffic is at a standstill right now as the accident happened within the last 30 minutes. Authorities are tending to those involve while attempting to clear a path and redirect traffic.
If at all possible, avoid this intersection at this time until authorities can address the accident.
FYN publishes the arrest reports provided by the GCSO. The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 50-18-70) allows for FetchYourNews to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Gilmer County. Those arrests are posted on FetchYourNews for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.