Supt. John Thomas Hardin County Schools


Hardin County Director of Schools Trial Begins

Meghan Pinkley

Savannah, Tenn. - The trial for Hardin County's Director of Schools John Thomas began, Monday morning. Thomas was indicted in March for bringing a handgun onto the campus of Hardin County Middle School in November of last year. The case was presented to the grand jury by concerned citizen Jeremy Fowler after District Attorney Hansel McCadams chose not to prosecute.

Opening arguments began Monday at 1:00 p.m., with testimony lasting about four hours. Four witnesses took the stand and many important facts were brought to the jury's attention.

"He knew he was carrying it for the purpose of going off," said Special Prosecutor Mike Bottoms, who added that once Thomas put his gun in his belt holster, he was aware of its presence. "We have a law that you do not take guns to school and that included the school superintendent and the law should be applied equally and that is why we are here," said Bottoms.

Thomas' attorney, Curt Hopper, fired back, "There's no evidence that suggests that day that Mr. Thomas was carrying that firearm with the intent to go armed."

The school board's secretary testified that Thomas told her he forgot the gun was on him. Hopper added that the only eyewitnesses were very clear, there was no threat made by Thomas.

Hardin County Sheriff Sammy Davidson explained that when his deputy brought the situation to his attention, he was unsure of any laws that said a director of schools was unable to carry a gun on school property. He testified that during his investigation he did not find evidence of any criminal threat.

District Attorney General Hansel McCadams, who was replaced by Bottoms for this case, took the stand and confirmed that Thomas was not under the legal right to carry a pistol on campus, but the reason he chose not to prosecute was because he felt there wasn't sufficient proof to charge Thomas.

Many parents of Hardin County school students said they feel like Thomas did not have the right to bring a gun on the same property as their kids. They said although he was in charge of their safety, it should be up to the sheriff's department to bring the weapons on campus.

The trial is set to resume at 9:00 a.m., Tuesday.


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