April 30, 2014

Attorney: ‘On the inside, there was no standoff’ (Updated 6 p.m.)

Grief over the tragic deaths of a family he knew, as well as other personal concerns, were among the issues leading a carpet company executive to stay inside his office for four hours while police surrounded his building with guns last week, his attorney said.

Brent Price Pickard, 45, of 1426 Williams St., Chattanooga, was charged Tuesday by the Dalton Police Department with simple assault for “intimidating” his wife with a rifle and throwing a cup of tea at her, officials said.

The charge stems from actions between the two just before an April 22 incident at the Eligere Carpet and Rugs facility on Hamilton Street where, according to police, an intoxicated and armed Pickard refused to come out of his office as representatives of multiple law enforcement agencies surrounded the building with guns. Pickard emerged some four hours later, headed to the hospital to be evaluated.

His attorney, Marcus Morris, said Wednesday that while he wasn’t at liberty to discuss details, Pickard was upset over the April 21 accidental drownings of Renee Monroe, 60, and her granddaughter Reagan Cohen, 3, and grandson Jaxson Cohen, 18 months, on their farm in Ringgold. Morris said Pickard had had business dealings with the Monroe family.

“There were a number of factors that went into what led to the events of Tuesday night,” Morris said. “It was just a terribly depressing day for him.”

Pickard has not returned several messages left at his business, and a woman who said she spoke on behalf of employees there declined to comment. Pickard was released on $3,500 bond on Tuesday.

Police Department spokesman Bruce Frazier said Pickard does not face charges related to anything that happened inside the building. Officials have said Pickard had some kind of argument with his wife and that he at some point took a rifle out of his truck in a manner that made her feel threatened even though he did not point it at her. The woman went to a nearby business where someone called 911 on her behalf after she told people there Pickard had a gun.

Frazier said Pickard left the rifle in his truck before going inside the Eligere building to his office, but he still had a handgun with him. Information about the kind of handgun and whether Pickard had more than one gun with him wasn’t immediately available. Frazier said Pickard went inside his office and did not threaten anyone in the building.

“What we have charged him with is everything that our investigators felt comfortable charging him with,” Frazier said.

Morris said that while the scene looked intense from the outside of the building as the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, Dalton Police Department, Georgia State Patrol and state probation surrounded the building with armed officers, the scene inside was far different. Morris arrived at the business about an hour before Pickard emerged and was taken away in an ambulance for an evaluation.

“Basically, Mr. Pickard was inside his own building, inside his office, not breaking any laws doing that,” Morris said.

Both Morris and Frazier declined to discuss in detail what happened inside the building during those four hours. Morris said he appreciates the efforts of the police and their patience as they took time to talk with Pickard.

“On the inside, there was no standoff,” Morris said. “In general, the nature of the conversation was about the day’s events and how he got to that point — and it was a particularly sad day in a lot of ways. ... He has not been charged with anything that happened inside that building because there was really nothing that happened inside the building.”

Frazier said in some instances individuals can be charged with obstruction for refusing to obey the lawful orders of a police officer. Asked whether that applied in Pickard’s situation, Frazier said investigators charged him with the only charge they felt was appropriate.

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