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Superintendent: Beloved teacher loss felt by all

Cassie Cassell

On Friday, Aug. 10, Chickamauga city students, parents and educators suffered the loss of a very special person, according to Melody Day, the city school system's superintendent.

"We are heartbroken over the loss of Ms. Cassell. She served as a teacher and administrator at Chickamauga Elementary School during her 20 year career in the Chickamauga City School District."

Day told the Messenger that "Ms. Cassell was such an impressive lady — smart, hardworking, strong, caring and kind. She had a positive impact on all — staff, students and parents alike."

But the beloved teacher and administrator is not just leaving behind a school system that will mourn her loss. According to the superintendent, "Ms. Cassell's husband, Todd, is a teacher/coach at Gordon Lee High School, and their daughter Kaighan is beginning sixth grade at Gordon Lee Middle School."

Educators and parents were advised via the school system's website that "due to the loss of our dear Ms. Cassell, we will be dismissing school Wednesday, August 14 at 11:30 a.m."

"I know this is an inconvenience for many, but Ms. Cassell's funeral will be at 1:00 p.m. that day. She is a very special member of the GL family who has served as a teacher and administrator during her 20 years at Chickamauga Elementary. To say she has impacted many is an understatement," the superintendent said.

"She is a beloved co-worker and friend! Many staff members, as well as many students wish to attend her funeral. We ask that you please keep Ms. Cassell's family and our school family in your prayers. Thank you for your support," Day said.

Those who wish to pay their respects can do so from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at Heritage Funeral Home & Crematory, located at 3239 Battlefield Pkwy., Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

To leave condolences for the family or to watch the memorial tribute, visit Heritage Funeral Home's Casie Ann (Willis) Cassell tribute page.


Walker County deputy shot

Thomas Agredano

A Walker County sheriff's deputy was shot during the patrol dispatch response to a Rossville domestic call on Sunday night, Aug 11, according to Sheriff Steve Wilson.

The shooting occurred slightly before 9 : 3 0 p.m. when officers were called to the scene about an unwanted party at the residence off Claire Street.

When deputies arrived, the man was sitting on the porch, according to the sheriff. It was reported by News Channel 9 that he had a weapon in his lap at the time deputies arrived.

Walker deputy Sgt. Agredano engaged the suspect in conversation, as is protocol,

but the 47-year-old suspect, Sherman Travis Thomas, told the deputy to leave before suddenly brandishing his weapon and opening fire upon him.

As Sgt. Agredano and Deputy Coppack retreated for cover they also returned fire, but Sgt. Agredano was shot in the leg during the exchange, the Walker County sheriff said.

The suspect was shot multiple times.

Sgt. Agredano and the suspect were both immediately transported to Erlanger Hospital for treatment. And the Sgt. was treated and released early Monday morning, Aug. 12.

After undergoing surgery, the suspect remains in critical condition, according to the sheriff.

As in all deputy-related shootings, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations was called in to investigate, per protocol.

The GBI said that this was the 50th deputy/officer-related shooting investigated by their agency for 2019.

More information will be provided as the Messenger has updates.


Man goes on crime spree in LaFayette

The rap sheet on Walker County inmate Corey Chaz Warren rivals the Internal Revenue Services tax code, with the detective working the case stating that "this is an unusual case. It is out of the ordinary."

Warren, whom the LaFayette Police Department recently arrested in a string of approximately 10 crimes, allegedly committed them all in less than 12 hours time.

"The police department is familiar with this suspect," detective Mullis said.

The LaFayette P.D. should be familiar with Warren, since four years ago, almost to the day, the Messenger reported that they arrested him for similar type offenses.

But Warren was not serving time when these late-night July 29th, early-morning July 30th property crimes occurred.

And, as is often the case in many law enforcement arrests scenarios, these crimes

might not have been solved if not for the suspect putting himself at the scene of the crime, unnecessarily, since none of the victims in this crime spree heard or saw anyone during the commission of the crimes — except for one male victim, that is.

Houses, outbuildings, cars, trucks, sheds, utility trailers, back porches, and even a mancave were all violated in this estimated six-to-seven-hour late-night, early-morning crime spree, according to Det. Mullis.

The targeted properties followed a trajectory that spanned a total of five different drives and streets that connected to one another in one part of the city right off Main Street.

The crimes confounded several neighbors in each location when they awakened to the violation of their properties — and the additional confusion of finding other people's things littering their own lawns.

One man was missing an Ozark cooler, which ended up in a woman's yard one street over. Another person was missing fishing poles, which ended up in her neighbor's yard, along with several other items of hers.

And the neighbor who inherited the fishing poles awakened to find that some of her belongings was at a different neighbor's home in the same community.

Many of the victims were elderly, who might otherwise have thought they were suffer ing from memory loss if they had went seeking for a tool, fishing pole, or some other item in the normal course of a day and could not find it. But, the perpetrator in this 10-crimes-or-more case did not leave such a conclusion open to speculation.

Every item taken, with the exception of a select — and costly — few, were all found in another person's yard within the five road area, according to the police reports, with many being found out in the open, in plain sight, at the property owners' neighbor's house... in that neighbor's front or side yard, so it could not be missed.

This type of theft behavior is often linked to juveniles, and can lead to a slap on the wrist or misdemeanor charges. However, these thefts, which included the theft of a laptop estimated to be worth $900 (and belonging to a technical college), as well as handcuffs and other items removed from the vehicle of an officer-in-training (who lives in LaFayette but is not affiliated with any Walker County or LaFayette law enforcement agency) can net serious time for the suspect if convicted of the charges in the state of Georgia.

Georgia code law, burglary and theft by taking (two of the charges in these 10 reports), are felony offenses.

As of Aug. 2nd, Corey Chaz Warren, 29, has been charged with the following regarding these thefts and property trespass violations:

Seven burglaries; one criminal trespass; three entering automobile or other motor vehicle with intent; and, two theft by taking charges.


Q&A with Steve Wilson
With Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson

Burdens, encouraging moments, and what motivates him

In the second part of the Messenger's 10-Part Q&A with Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, the sheriff talks about burdens he faces as a sheriff as one of the conversation topics. In that part of the interview, concern about deputy shootings is discussed.

In light of the recent deputy shooting during a domestic incident in Rossville so soon after the sheriff's interview, we chose to run only that pertinent part of the conversation with the sheriff this week.

We will print the remainder of the second interview with him next week.

Sheriff Wilson, what is one concerning burden that you have for the sheriff's office?

One of the things that I think about, not a lot, but with the death of deputy Dixon in Hall County in Gainesville last month, I think about it more now is an officer's death in the line of duty.

That would have to be — absolutely have to be — the worst day of any organization's life, I think.

I saw Sheriff Couch at our summer training conference two weeks ago and he was just fresh off of his deputy being killed in the line of duty two weeks prior to that.

I saw the pain in his face as he talked to us about it. And yesterday online (Thur., Aug. 8), I saw where some deputies took his fourth grade son to the first day of school. It was about 10 of them volunteered to escort his son to school.

Touching.

I'm just thinking: "That young boy, he will never forget these events. There he doesn't have his daddy to walk him to school anymore, but the next best thing I guess is these men — deputies who worked with his daddy, who stepped up and escorted him to school.

I think back on that and — line of duty deaths — and I just pray, I really do, that I never have to face that. It worries me, but I don't know that you can call it...a "burden."

I hope other people will remember people who work in emergency services — police, fire, rescue, etc. — in their daily prayers. That they will get to come home safe every day.

Yes, I agree.

A moment of silence fills the air as the heavy topic hangs in the air.

On Monday, following this interview late last week — and before this could go to press — two of the sheriff's deputies at Walker County were dispatched to a domestic violence scene in Rossville,

where one was shot by the suspect after a short conversation ensued.

Sheriff, this feels like deja vu. We were just talking about your burden about this type of thing happening in Walker County with your men, and then it does — sort-of, since your deputy survived the shooting, unlike the deputy in Hall County, who lost his life.

What went through your mind the minute you were told this had happened?

Oh. Yeah. I know. I was very worried as I left my house for the hospital. I knew he had been shot in the leg, but halfway to the hospital I get a call from the 911 telling me there had been two shots to the chest and one to the leg.

I started immediately remembering the Hall County deputy shot-todeath in the line of duty that we talked about last week in your interview of me. I'm stressing about how I am going to tell his wife, tell his family what has happened.

night, too.

Both on a Sunday night, oh my goodness.

But, thankfully, because of the sirens going on my drive to the hospital and the phone ringing off the hook, I had to hear the 911 operator wrong. They had to be telling me about the suspect taking two bullets to the chest instead of my deputy, who suffered the shot to the leg.

So many emotions were going through me. I kept thinking about how much I feared something like this happening to my men. And, I am so thankful that it turned out to be a leg injury instead of a fatality.

How is Deputy Agredano doing?

He was able to hobble out of the hospital this morning. They didn't take the bullet out of his leg. They left it in there. I have been told by another man on our team that this has been the procedure for some other similar type instances, so maybe it is a new procedure when nothing has been shattered or damaged, like in this case, since the shin bone was not broken and no artery was hit.

In fact, there wasn't any muscle damage done, according to what I was told.

What a miracle.

Yeah, we think that the bullet, which came from the bad guy's 40-caliber automatic, had to have ricocheted on something when it was fired, before it hit him, because he was only 30-to 40-feet away and a shot at him without the bullet ricocheting should have definitely broken bone.

But...

We are just so thankful and feeling so blessed that this was no worse than it was and that nothing was broken.

Thank you for taking the time to enlighten the Walker County citizens about this on a more personal level, sheriff.

I know that you were busy with this just happening, and you probably did not get much sleep, so it speaks a lot to your willingness to always be available to update the county via the local media.

You're welcome.

Next: Part 2 will be continued into next week, since the interview with the sheriff was much more in-depth this week, but we only were able to run a portion of it based upon the unexpected deputy shooting.