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Restraining order still in place

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Feb. 15, 2001
Chancery Court Judge Jerry Mason on Wednesday continued a restraining order issued Feb. 5 against an Amtrak conductor who allegedly made threats against the lives of Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith and other Amtrak officials.
Shawn Charles Knowles told Mason he has not had sufficient time to secure legal counsel since he was served with a summons on Tuesday, the day before he was scheduled to appear for an injunction hearing.
Mason issued a temporary restraining order against Knowles after Amtrak filed a complaint stating Knowles told an Amtrak employee "I will call some people and take … John Robert Smith out."
Although court records reflect Knowles has a Meridian address at 2701 Willow Bend Drive, Apt. 2005, Knowles said he has not lived in Meridian since 1982. He currently resides in Georgia, he said.
Knowles asked Mason to dismiss the restraining order so that he can contact two union members for counsel.
Mason refused to dismiss the restraining order, but granted Knowles permission to contact Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers chairman Ray Longhauser and vice-chair Thomas Kelly.
Meridian Police Chief Gregg Lewis said criminal charges are possible. FBI agents were contacted Jan. 29, the night of the alleged threats and the agencies involved are investigating the threats, he said.
The complaint said Knowles made the threats because of a disciplinary hearing scheduled for Feb. 28 in which Knowles said he believes Amtrak officials have instructed other Amtrak employees to lie.
The Amtrak complaint states Knowles allegedly 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, service manager for The Crescent line.
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.
Knowles' injunction hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23 in Lauderdale County Chancery Court.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at