About two hours before Byron “Low Tax” Looper was found dead in a prison cell Wednesday morning, he reportedly assaulted a pregnant female counselor, according to the Chattanooga TFP. An incident report from the Morgan County Correctional Complex reveals what happened in the hours before the death of Looper, who was serving a life sentence in East Tennessee for assassinating his political opponent, Sen. Tommy Burks, in 1998.
The incident report accuses Looper of hitting the counselor, who was 34 weeks pregnant, in the head about 8:55 a.m. Wednesday. Guards responded to the assault and restrained Looper, the report states, “with the least amount of force necessary.”
….The report states that earlier that morning Looper was standing nearby when his counselor and a prison unit manager were talking about a request he had made. That’s when, authorities say, he held his hands out and hit the counselor on both sides of her head, knocking off her glasses.
The report doesn’t specify the request Looper made, but two sources said Looper recently had been told he was going to be placed back in the prison’s general population, and he didn’t want that because he was afraid of being hurt.
Looper, who legally changed his middle name to “Low Tax,” ran against Burks, a popular Democrat, in 1998.
Burks, who had held office in Tennessee for 28 years, was found slumped over in his truck on his farm in Monterey on Oct. 19, 1998, shot near his left eye. Looper was charged in the crime and convicted of first-degree murder.
A peace treaty formally ending the infamous Coal Creek War of 1892, whick left 27 coal miners killed and more than 500 under arrest, was signed Friday in a ceremony on Vowell Mountain overlooking Lake City.
From the News Sentinel report: The ceremony also recognized the site as the location of Fort Anderson, where Tennessee National Guardsmen fought a pitched battle with striking coal miners upset that the state had brought in convicts to work in their mines.
Trenches dug by guardsmen as battlements and protections from attacking coal miners are the only visible remnants of the fort.
The location, featuring nine markers describing that bloody chapter of Anderson County’s past, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, said Barry Thacker, president of Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.
The nonprofit organization for 13 years has been working to improve the environment, living conditions and the education of residents of the isolated mountainous area, pockmarked by abandoned coal mines.
And Friday’s ceremony was another bid to acquaint students of tiny Briceville School with their area’s colorful past.
Thacker said the Coal Creek War was never officially ended, prompting Friday’s event.
“This is a really great way to involve young people in history,” said state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “We don’t spend enough time learning it and teaching it to young people.”
McNally, like other participants, wore a green bandana knotted around his neck in recognition of the occasion.
Striking miners wore such bandannas as a way to identify fellow members of their ragtag insurrection.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Air National Guard in Memphis would get eight C-17 planes under planned restructuring by the Air Force, replacing C-5A aircraft being retired.
Nashville would get an unmanned aircraft squadron under the proposal, announced Friday in Washington. The city would lose six WC-130 aircraft to Luis Munoz, Puerto Rico, to replace retiring aircraft.
McGhee-Tyson in Knoxville would lose two KC-135s.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the proposals continue to recognize the important role of the Tennessee Air National Guard.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the plans show that Tennessee Air National Guard bases are crucial to U.S. readiness.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who represents parts of Memphis, said the proposals fit well with the skill set of the Air National Guard. Note: News release from Tennessee National Guard is below.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The National Guard celebrated its 375th birthday Tuesday with state officials announcing a new suicide prevention smartphone app for Tennessee soldiers.
The “Guard Your Buddy” app is the first of its kind in the country with the potential to spread to other states, Guard officials said on Tuesday. At least six Tennessee guardsmen or women have taken their lives since 2004.
“There’s a stigma in the military about suicide,” said Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, the state adjutant general. “We want to take it away.”
Army investigators are probing the cause of a National Guard helicopter crash that killed two Knoxville pilots in Campbell County over the weekend, according to the News Sentinel. Tennessee Army National Guard 1st Lt. Thomas Joseph Williams Jr., 26, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel Cole, 41, were killed when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior went down near Exit 141 on Interstate 75 about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, said Tennessee Military Department spokesman Randy Harris.
The two pilots – both members of the 1/230th Air Cavalry Squadron, Troop C, based at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base – were conducting a routine training flight at the time, he said.
The cause of the crash is unknown. An Army aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Ala., is investigating, Harris said.
A LaFollette Utilities Board spokesperson said the aircraft struck power lines at some point in the course of the crash, causing brief outages in the surrounding area.
…”We as a state mourn with the families of 1st Lt. Thomas Joseph Williams Jr. and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Daniel Cole and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” Haslam said. “This is a somber reminder of how our troops face life-threatening situations in training as well as in combat.”
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is the armed attack version of the OH-58 Kiowa observation and reconnaissance helicopter.
Two other Warrior pilots from the 1/230th’s Troop C – Capt. Marcus R. Alford Sr., 28, of Knoxville, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Billie Jean Grinder, 25, of Gallatin – were killed in a crash while deployed with the squadron near Mosul, Iraq in February 2010.
Family members of Alford and Grinder filed a lawsuit earlier this year in Knox County Circuit Court alleging that the helicopter’s electronic control system was a direct and proximate cause of their deaths because the helicopter’s producers were negligent in failing to correct and remove unsafe, dangerous and defective conditions about which they should have known.