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Mayor threatened; temporary restraining order issued against Meridian man

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Feb. 7, 2001
Lauderdale County Chancery Judge Jerry Mason has issued a temporary restraining order against a Meridian man accused of threatening Amtrak officers, including Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith.
Amtrak filed the complaint on Monday, alleging Amtrak conductor Shawn Charles Knowles of 2701 Willow Bend Drive, Apt. 2005, made threatening statements regarding Mayor Smith, Gulf Coast General Manager Deborah Wetter, Assistant General Manager of "The City of New Orleans" Dave White and John T. Eldridge, an Amtrak board member.
Mayor Smith is also a member of the Amtrak board of directors.
The complaint reads that Knowles told Eldridge "I will call some people and take Deborah and John Robert Smith out."
Meridian Police Chief Gregg Lewis said FBI agents were contacted Jan. 29, the night of alleged threats. Criminal charges are possible, he said.
The complaint states Knowles made the threats because of a disciplinary hearing scheduled for Feb. 28 in which Knowles believes Amtrak officials have instructed other Amtrak employees to lie.
Lewis said security for the mayor has been heightened.
Among the agencies Lewis is working with is Amtrak Police Department, whose detective Leigh Cole, came to Meridian from Ft. Worth, Texas, to investigate potential criminal charges.
Mason's order prohibits Knowles from threatening, cursing, coercing, intimidating, insulting or doing bodily harm or threatening to do bodily harm, hindering, harassing or injuring anyone associated with Amtrak.
He is also not allowed to contact Smith or any other person listed in the complaint.
A hearing for Amtrak's request for an injunction against Knowles is scheduled for Feb. 14 in Lauderdale County Chancery Court.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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