Free to tote gun in courthouse? Deputies think not
In a 'World' of trouble in jefferson
By Todd DeFeo | [email protected] | Story updated at 12:16 AM on Saturday, January 13, 2007
JEFFERSON - A Gillsville man caught with a handgun at the Jackson County Courthouse tried to talk his way out of trouble, explaining he is a member of the "Freedom World" and doesn't have to follow laws that would stop people from carrying a handgun into a courthouse.
But Carey Earl Dowis' excuse that he is "immune from any of our laws" - as sheriff's Maj. David Cochran said - didn't fly with deputies who charged him with carrying a deadly weapon at a public gathering.
Dowis was arrested Jan. 5 after he brought the handgun in a briefcase to the courthouse, Cochran said.
"As (deputies) X-rayed that briefcase, they discovered that firearm," he said.
Dowis also told authorities he was at the courthouse to see a judge about probation, but authorities couldn't find any proof that Dowis was on probation. Investigators also don't think Dowis had targeted anyone.
"We don't have any evidence that he had any intent of harming anyone," Cochran said.
In the end, the episode tested courthouse security at a facility where an inmate last August took a deputy's gun and tried to shoot his way to freedom. The inmate was killed in the failed escape attempt and a sheriff's deputy was seriously wounded.
"We're always concerned when we find a firearm attempting to get into the courthouse," Cochran said. "Everything worked well. That always reassures you."
Deputies also impounded Dowis' Chevrolet pickup truck, which did not have a government-issued license plate.
Instead, the truck bore a tag purportedly explaining why he is exempt from state law. It displays his name in bold red letters, as well as an address and telephone number in smaller type, and cites specific state laws as proof of his rights to travel and to private property.
Authorities did not charge Dowis with operating the pickup on public roads without a license plate.
Dowis is scheduled to be arraigned in Jackson County State Court on Feb. 16.
The phone number printed on Dowis' license plate was disconnected and he could not be reached for comment.