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‘They’re Yelling At Us’: White Fire Chief and Son Chase Two South Carolina Boys After Teens Turned Around In Their Driveway, Forced Them to Lie on Ground at Gunpoint

The parents of two South Carolina teens have filed a civil lawsuit against an Anderson County fire chief and his son after the two men chased down their children and falsely imprisoned the minors during the late summer of 2022.

According to the claim, the civil servant unlawfully detained the teens at gunpoint, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, assaulted them and thus violated their civil rights, according to WHNS.

The fire chief and his son deny any wrongdoing but once admitted to chasing the teens for about 15 minutes and yelling at them. The fire chief admitted to pointing his pistol at them and making them lie down on the ground until authorities arrived. The chief and his son have since flipped-flopped on their confession.

Townsville Fire Chief Billy McAdams allegedly chased two South Carolina teens and held them at gunpoint. (Photo: Twitter/Mandy Gaither)

The mothers noted in the complaint that no charges were ever filed after the confrontation. Their lawsuit comes eight months after the incident.

Last August, according to the newly filed complaint, the boys were scouting out a couple of goose-hunting locations along Lake Hartwell. While driving around, the pair got lost and needed to find a marker to help them get their bearings.

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One of the markers where the two decided to make a turnaround was the driveway of Townville fire chief Billy McAdams.

McAdams and his son swiftly hopped in their respective trucks and started chasing down the boys. They chased the teens from Anderson County to Oconee County. Once in Oconee County, the boys called 911, explaining they were being chased.

“We just made a quick turnaround. As we went by we kind of just waved and it looked like someone jumped up pretty quickly and then all of a sudden both of ‘em were on our tails in no time, trying to cut us off,” one of the youths said to the dispatcher.

McAdams also called in the chase on his radio. He said he didn’t use his cellphone because he did not have it on him. The Anderson operator that answered the call remarked how unusual it was for the fire chief to use the system like he was a peace officer.

“He’s giving us updates like he’s trying to be an officer. I’m not really — I’m not really following what’s happening,” the dispatcher said to the corresponding operator in Oconee County.

What the operators were able to decipher is that the chief thought the boys were robbers and that he had been a victim before.

When the McAdams were able to catch up with the boys, the fire chief pulled his weapon out and told them they were being held because they suspiciously went on his property.

The teens were still on the call with the 911 officer and said, “They’re yelling at us, and they have guns.”

When asked if both men were armed, the teen said, “One has a gun.”

The two were instructed to “stay in the car and lock the doors.”

However, the boy on the call said he would not be able to because the McAdams were making them “get out of the car with guns.”

Court documents say the chief admitted to telling the young men to lie down on the road. He also admitted he forced them to prostrate with a gun.

The Oconee operator overheard the entire escalation and told the Anderson dispatcher to tell the fire chief to put his gun away. To his dismay, McAdams had already ended the call.

Eventually, McAdams assessed that individuals he thought were “robbers” were actually minors. That’s when he reportedly put his pistol away.

The operator made a request to McAdams. “Billy, can you get in your vehicle and just not talk to them and separate yourself from them? We’ve got people headed that way,” the operator pleaded.

According to an incident filed in Oconee County, a judge found probable cause to issue a warrant to the Anderson fire chief. The caveat is that he would also have to issue a warrant to the teens. The case was eventually closed with no resolution.

New information prompted law enforcement to reopen the case, according to Oconee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jimmy Watt. The criminal case will be investigated by the county’s criminal investigations bureau.

McAdams lives in the predominantly white Anderson. According to the U.S. Census, there are about 210,000 residents there, with 80 percent being white and Blacks making up about 16 percent.

Race has been a major political issue in South Carolina in 2023. The state has recently passed the “Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act.”

This law will provide “an enhanced penalty for certain violent crimes when the offender intentionally selects a victim due to the offender’s belief or perception regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.”

One of the enhanced penalties outside of arrest is a fine of not more than $10,000. Another is an additional term of imprisonment of up to five years.

Not everyone was for the legislation. One objector is a representative from the county in which McAdams lives.

Anderson County Rep. Thomas Beach said this law actually alienates those not protected and fails to offer equal support. “It does not,” said Charleston Rep. Wendell Gilliard. “This belongs to all groups of people,” he said, after referencing the 2015 shooting of nine churchgoers killed because they were Black in a local South Carolinian church.

On the other hand, during a debate about passing the hate crimes law, Beach had this to say, according to ABC 15. “I believe that if you’re making any group of society more important by giving them extra protections, that makes things unfair.”

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