Local man arrested during Ku Klux Klan initiation

By Julie Fann
star staff

   WASHINGTON COUNTY -- An Elizabethton man was arrested and charged Saturday night following a shooting that occurred during what self-described members of the Ku Klux Klan said was the initiation of a new member, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Department.
   Gregory Allen Freeman, age 45, of 805 Cambridge Ave., Elizabethton, was charged with aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment in the incident, which occurred Saturday at approximately 8 p.m. in a wooded area near 363 Bill West Rd., a press release from the WCSD states.
   According to Sheriff Ed Graybeal, "During the initiation process, several rounds were fired in the air, one of which accidentally struck a participant, Jeffery S. Murr, age 24, of 458 1/2 Carolina Ave., Erwin."
   WCSD Lt. Keith Sexton, one of four investigators who responded to the scene, said all eight individuals present, including the victim, told police the gathering was a KKK initiation.
   "They weren't trying to hide it or anything. We didn't find any hoods or anything like that when we got there. We did find a blindfold at the scene, but that was all," said Sexton.
   According to Sexton, the youngest participant in the initiation was fourteen years old.
   Sexton said Murr was shot probably due to a lack of lighting in the wooded area.
   "It was in the woods and it was totally dark with no lights, and I guess the guy just got in the way (of the shot)," he said. "After the shooting occurred, one of them went to the house across the street and called 911."
   Murr was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center Hospital where he was listed in critical condition Sunday evening.
   Freeman is being held in the Washington County Detention Center on a $7,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Johnson City Sessions Court today at 1:30 p.m.
   An investigation into the incident continues, and charges are pending, according to the WCSD.