Was it an "over reaction" or did the presence of large numbers of law enforcement personnel prevent a tragedy Tuesday?
Walt Fitzpatrick was in Monroe County General Sessions Court on charges of inciting a riot, disturbing a meeting, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after he tried to make a citizen's arrest of a grand jury foreman earlier this month.
Fitzpatrick's appearance in the courtroom was very low key as he didn't appear before Judge Reed Dixon. According to the Sessions Court clerk's office, his case was reset after his attorney and the state agreed to reset his case for May 4 during a recess.
It was outside the courtroom, in the streets of Madisonville, where everything was happening. Or not happening, depending on your point of view. After reports that as many as 50 people would show up to support Fitzpatrick, around 20 were reported to have come to town.
Law enforcement vehicles from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the Madisonville Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol drove the streets on regular sweeps and there were even members of a SWAT team, reportedly from Bradley County, guarding the Courthouse.
Madisonville Police Chief Gregg Breeden he'd like to detail what all was done, but as it looks like it will all have to be done again on May 4, he doesn't want to give away any tactical details.
"Was it an over reaction?" he wondered. "Maybe, maybe not. Was everybody safe at the Courthouse and on the streets? Of course they were. Was it because of our presence? That's harder to answer."
Even though Fitzpatrick was scheduled to be in the Sessions Court above the jail, the main Courthouse on College Street was heavily guarded and everyone entering was being led through a metal detector.
Monroe County Mayor Allan Watson said there had been a couple of threats phoned in to the Courthouse. "I don't know all the details of the threats," Watson said, "but I was told one threat came in Monday night and there was another one Tuesday morning."
Even though Watson came in and opened the Courthouse Tuesday, he had his staff stay home.
Monroe County Circuit Court Clerk Marty Cook said she sent her staff home a little after 1 p.m.
"We did have a murder trial set for Tuesday, but it was reset, so we didn't have any official business that was affected by the closing," Cook said.
Watson said he didn't know if the Courthouse would be shut down again on May 4 when Fitzpatrick comes back to court. But as he and others have pointed out, May 4 is the primary election day.
Monroe County Director of Schools Mike Lowry said extra safety precautions were taken at the schools in Madisonville in particular simply as a precautionary measure.
He said he was not aware of any threats made to schools and the schools were never in lockdown as some rumors said.
"It was just a precautionary measure and extra awareness," Lowry said. Lowry said there was additional safety enforcement personal at Madisonville Primary because of its close proximity to the Courthouse, but it did not interfere with the school day.
"Everything went fine," he said.
Fitzpatrick has been attempting indict President Barack Obama in the Monroe County Grand Jury system on a charge of treason, saying the president isn't an American born citizen and is serving illegally.
After a grand jury sub-panel declined to let him present his case to the grand jury, Fitzpatrick declared grand jury foreman Gary Pettway was serving illegally as he had been the foreman for more than 20 years and was only supposed to have a two-year term. He then attempted to make a citizen's arrest of Pettway during a grand jury session.
A check of Tennessee law later showed the same challenge had been made in 1983 and shot down by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which ruled there are no term limits on a grand jury email@example.com