Big Springs standoff ends peacefully

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Members of Carter County Sheriff's Department defused a tense situation Wednesday after receiving a call of a disorderly person with a high-powered rifle who had barricaded himself into a house after allegedly making threats.
   According to Sheriff John Henson, Deputy Eric Buck and Investigator Chris Pierce were dispatched around 2:45 p.m. to a disturbance at 234 Big Springs Road.
   When officers arrived, they were advised that Johnny Lynn Burton, 44, of the residence, "had a high-powered rifle and had barricaded himself in a room after pointing the rifle at the boy that was mowing the yard," the sheriff said.
   Officers called for backup and kept surveillance on the residence until help arrived. "Once everybody got there, we surrounded the house and made a phone call to the subject inside and advised him to either come out or we were going to come in and get him, and to come out unarmed. Which he did," Henson said. "No one was injured."
   According to Investigator Pierce, when officers arrived they spoke with Clifford Allen Blevins III, 33, 409 Jena Beth Drive, who said that he had been called to the residence by Burton's father, James, 75, who asked him to mow the lawn. "Blevins said that while he was mowing, Johnny Burton came out of the house and threatened him," Pierce said.
   The first call to 911 was made by Burton's father and was dispatched as a "drunk, disorderly person," according to Pierce. "When Blevins called, he said that Burton was drunk and had a high-powered rifle and pointed it at him. That changed the scenario around big-time."
   According to the investigator, Johnny Burton went to the garage where James Burton was and told his dad " 'to go out there and get the boy off the f...ing lawnmower,' and the dad said, 'No, I've got the boy out there helping me. You won't help me.'
   "Then the guy went in and got the gun and pointed it at Blevins and told him to get off the lawnmower, and he did," Pierce said.
   Once members of the sheriff's department and S.W.A.T. team arrived, Burton apparently looked out the window, "saw the S.W.A.T. team getting their gear on and everybody with guns, and he walked to the safe and locked the gun up," Pierce said.
   Deputy Buck observed Burton through a window and saw him place an open knife in his pocket before surrendering, Pierce said. "When we arrested him, we got the open knife out of his pocket."
   Sheriff Henson said every officer on the scene did exactly what they were supposed to do. "They got the people away from the residence and evacuated the house next door in case some gunfire did erupt."
   Burton was heavily intoxicated, according to the sheriff, "and that was probably the reason that he did this." Henson said deputies have answered disturbance calls at the residence before and that Burton has a prior arrest record.
   "I'm just glad everything came out the way it did. That's a heavily populated area out there and anytime you've got an intoxicated person with a high-powered rifle, you've got a dangerous situation, especially with a man that's barricaded himself in the house," Henson said. "It didn't last over 15 to 20 minutes, but it was a serious situation to start with."
   Investigator Pierce described the rifle as a synthetic .30-06 Winchester, bolt action, with scope.
   Burton was taken into custody by Pierce and charged with aggravated assault before being released later on $5,000 bond.
   Sheriff Henson praised back-up officers as well as Deputy Buck and Reserve Deputy Randy Buck, who were first on the scene. "They did an outstanding job."
   Also responding were Chief Deputy James Parrish, Capt. Wayne Markland, Lt. Jamie Jenkins, Lt. Mike Fraley, Sgt. Randy Bowers, Sgt. L.C. Tester, Deputy Jim Whaley, and John Burleson of Carter County Rescue Squad, who is also a S.W.A.T. team member.