Man accuses candidate Palmer of pointing gun

Augusta Commission District 1 candidate James "Butch" Palmer, an outspoken activist against crime in his neighborhood, has been accused of committing a crime in Harrisburg himself.

According to a Richmond County sheriff's report, Elliott Davis, 37, said Mr. Palmer pointed a shotgun at him last week as he rode past Mr. Palmer's house in the 500 block of Tuttle Street, then called him "boy" and threatened to shoot him.

Mr. Davis said Mr. Palmer was angry because he had the music turned up loud on his SUV's stereo.

In an interview with the The Chronicle late Tuesday, Mr. Palmer denied pointing a gun at the man and called his version of events "hilarious."

"He's a nut," he said. "I'm running for public office, and you've got a yahoo who wants to make trouble. That's what I'm seeing."

On Monday, Mr. Davis filled out paperwork to pursue a warrant against Mr. Palmer, and a hearing has been scheduled in Magistrate Court at 9 a.m. Nov. 6, three days after the election. Mr. Davis is seeking a charge of pointing a gun at another, a misdemeanor. A judge will decide whether there is probable cause for an arrest warrant.

In a telephone interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Davis said he lives in the 600 block of Eve Street and was recently laid off from Macuch Steel Products Inc. He said he does not live at 609 Eve St., the illegal boardinghouse targeted as a "nuisance" by a Mr. Palmer and other activists during their Fourth of July march against absentee landlords, but he knows some of the tenants there.

Mr. Davis said he was visiting a friend on Hicks Street the evening of Sept. 24, then made a trip to a convenience store, driving with Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry cranked up on the stereo. He said when he passed Mr. Palmer's house the first time he heard Mr. Palmer yelling.

When he went by again on his way back, he said he saw Mr. Palmer standing on his front porch aiming the gun at him. Bothered, he said, he turned around at the end of the street and pulled up in front of Mr. Palmer's house. Sitting in his truck, he asked Mr. Palmer why he was pointing a gun at him.

Mr. Davis said Mr. Palmer walked to the end of his front walkway, stood behind his gate and, with the gun still trained on him, said, "Turn that music down, boy, before I shoot you."

Mr. Davis said he knew who Mr. Palmer was before the incident but had never interacted with him.

"That's why it kind of bothered me, you know?" he said. "People running for office don't do that, you know?"

Mr. Palmer questioned why, if he were pointing a gun at Mr. Davis, he would turn around and come back.

He said he was on the porch, a Remington 1100 shotgun lying on the ground, when a car came by blasting bass-heavy music that was so loud it rattled the windows of his house.

Mr. Palmer said he yelled, "Too loud!" at the car, and the driver made an obscene gesture. Then the driver came back and started cursing him. So he picked up the shotgun, without pointing it, and went inside, he said.

"It was frightening. I felt threatened by his behavior," Mr. Palmer said.

He never went to the end of his walkway, Mr. Palmer said, nor did he call the man "boy."

This isn't the first time Mr. Palmer has had trouble in his neighborhood involving firearms. On Jan. 18 he told police two hooded teenagers fired pistols at his house after a candlelight vigil for shooting victim Daniel McGee. A deputy found bullet tips on Mr. Palmer's floor and on the hood of an undamaged vehicle. Across the street, the deputy collected six .25-caliber shell casings and one 9 mm shell casing.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.