The attorney for a woman whose father was shot and killed by a Walker County deputy says a 911 call that set the stage for the incident came from the woman's mother-in-law.
In the early morning hours of New Year's Day, a woman called 911, saying that a female at a residence at 147 Meadowview Lane in Rossville was threatening to kill herself and her children, according to the GBI, which is investigating the fatal incident.
Attorney Larry Stagg of Ringgold says the caller was the mother-in-law to Amy Gass. Amy was one of several family members inside the residence when three Walker County deputies arrived to check out the caller's story.
The deputies knocked and announced their arrival, which prompted Amy's father, 65-year-old Mark Parkinson, to grab a gun and check out the commotion.
The deputies spotted Parkinson in the kitchen, and one of the deputies, John Chandler, shot and killed him.
According to Stagg, who is representing Amy in her divorce from estranged husband Steven Gass, the 911 call came from Dorothy Gass, Steven Gass' mother. The call was made from Higdon, Ala., where Dorothy lives, he said.
According to one Chattanooga TV news source, radio traffic backs that up: "147 Meadowview Drive, 147 Meadowview Drive. (inaudible) advise that her daughter-in-law texted her and told her she was going to harm herself, her husband, and the children. And advised she does carry a firearm in her purse."
Stagg said that, at the time of the incident, five people were inside the house: Mark Parkinson, his wife Diana, Amy and her two children, a 6-year-old and a 16-year-old. Amy and her children were staying with her parents during the divorce proceedings, he said.
Stagg said they were asleep when Parkinson heard their three dogs barking from inside the residence. Parkinson retrieved his firearm for protection, Stagg said. Parkinson and his wife Diana then went into the kitchen area and heard someone banging on the kitchen window, Stagg said.
Within seconds, three shots were fired, with one striking Parkinson's jugular vein (throat area), causing him to bleed to death, the lawyer said.
Diana called for Amy to come downstairs and call 911, he said. Amy, a registered nurse, began to administer aid to her father by applying pressure to his neck, Stagg said.
Stagg said the family waited 3-5 minutes until paramedics and law enforcement arrived, believing that an unknown assailant had shot and killed Parkinson through the kitchen window. Stagg said no one in the family heard the knocking on the door or the three deputies announcing their arrival.
Stagg said Parkinson and Diana did not see law enforcement outside the residence and, to their knowledge, an unknown someone was simply banging on their kitchen window at 3 a.m.
Stagg said Amy does not know why her mother-in-law called 911 and reported that she was threatening to kill herself and her children.
The GBI has not publicly identified the caller or made any arrests in the incident. Greg Ramey, special agent with the GBI Office in Calhoun, on Tuesday said the GBI is trying to determine if the call was made maliciously or in good faith.
Stagg said family members say the three deputies did not enter the residence after the shots were fired. He said it's standard procedure, in such cases, for law enforcement to enter the residence to provide aid and secure the area.
When more law enforcement arrived after the Parkinsons called 911, no one told them it that a deputy had fired the fatal shots, Stagg said.
One hour later, Diana was taken to the Rossville Police Department to be interviewed, which is when she learned from the GBI that the shots that killed her husband came from Chandler, Stagg said.
"It's a horrible circumstance," Stagg said.
According to Maj. Mike Freeman with the Walker County Sheriff's Department, the three deputies have been placed on administrative leave and will remain so during the GBI's investigation. They will undergo critical incident stress debriefing, which is standard in such cases, Freeman said.
According to one TV news report, Deputy Chandler was hired by WCSO in April 2017 but has nearly six years of law enforcement experience. The report said the three deputies are on paid leave.
Stagg said Amy's estranged husband, Steven Gass, is contesting the divorce.
Amy was granted, in a hearing for temporary custody, full custody of the children, Stagg said. Steven was denied overnight stay with the children due to past erratic and abusive behavior toward his wife, he said.
According to an May 6, 2012, incident report by the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department:
A domestic disturbance occurred at the couple's residence on Cloud Springs Road in Rossville, in which Amy claims Steven was being aggressive late that evening, cursing her and began to grab her arm.
Amy told Steven he was hurting her, to which he replied, "I mean to" and began to push her, causing her to fall backwards and hit her arm on the kitchen counter.
Amy told police she was afraid of repercussions because her husband has multiple friends in Dade, Walker and Catoosa counties.
Damage to the residence was reported, including holes in the wall and damaged items inside the residence.
Police reported visible red marks and bruising on Amy. Due to pain following the incident, Amy had her arm X-rayed to make sure it was not broken.
The couple eventually reconciled, Stagg said.
According to a GBI press release, issued the day of the shooting, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office requested the GBI to investigate an officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of Mark Steven Parkinson, 65.
Preliminary information from Walker County authorities indicated that on Jan. 1, at about 3:15 a.m., Walker County deputies were dispatched to 147 Meadowview Lane in Rossville for a welfare check after a 911 call was made.
In the call, information was provided that stated a female at the residence was threatening to kill herself and her children. Once on scene, Deputy John Chandler observed Parkinson within the residence with a weapon.
Deputies announced multiple times that they were from the Walker County Sheriff’s Office. Parkinson pointed the weapon at Deputy Chandler. Subsequently, Deputy Chandler fired multiple shots at Parkinson, striking him.
GBI Special Agent Greg Ramey on Tuesday said sheriff's deputies, after arriving at the house, began to knock on the door and repeatedly announced their arrival.
Parkinson was seen in the kitchen, near a counter, and pointing a gun through a kitchen window at the deputy outside of the house, Ramey said.
Ramey said Parkinson was aware someone was outside of the home.
Parkinson was in the kitchen 15-30 seconds before the deputy fired the shots, Ramey said. The encounter between Parkinson and Chandler was a quick exchange, he said.
Ramey said other members of the residence were awake during the shooting and in relatively close proximity to the kitchen area where Parkinson was shot.