Texas sheriff receives threats after arrests at reopened bar

Sheriff Mike Griffis says his office has received emails and calls from people threatening him and to 'shoot up the town'


Odessa American

ECTOR COUNTY, Texas — Ector County’s top lawman said his office has received threatening messages and a voicemail that someone is going to “come shoot up the town” following a protest that ended in multiple arrests.

After organizer’s were arrested Monday for having “AR-15 type weapons” on a reportedly premises where alcohol is sold, Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said that the Sheriff’s Office has noticed a rise in threatening messages.

Protester Wyatt Winn is led away in handcuffs outside Big Daddy Zane's bar Monday, May 4, 2020, near Odessa, Texas. Winn was one of several people who showed up to support the bar's owner in her decision to open and serve customers.
Protester Wyatt Winn is led away in handcuffs outside Big Daddy Zane's bar Monday, May 4, 2020, near Odessa, Texas. Winn was one of several people who showed up to support the bar's owner in her decision to open and serve customers. (Photo/AP)

Griffis said that one of the threats was a voicemail left at the Ector County Courthouse, “saying that they’re gonna come shoot up the town,” he said.

In August of last a gunman drove around Odessa randomly shooting and killing seven people and wounding 25 others.

Griffis said that there was also a threatening message left at the Commissioner’s Court Office.

“There’s rumors of people wanting to kill me and none of this have been substantiated. I’m sure some of it is actual,” he said adding that on Tuesday a social media post released his home address and that of his ex-wife.

Griffis said that if ECSO can substantiate the threats, then they will file charges on those people.

“That’s ridiculous,” he said.

Wednesday morning, Philip Archibald, 29, one of the protestors who was not arrested Monday because he wasn’t carrying a gun, said via Facebook Live he was hoping to hold a protest at Anytime Fitness in Odessa, the Ector County Sheriff’s Office and at Griffis’ residence for what he said would be, “a peaceful protest.”

He said although his group protests with weapons they never intend to use the weapons. Griffis said in a previous phone interview that all the weapons seized on Monday during the arrests were loaded.

Griffis said that if protesters have guns and, “are on the sidewalk, that’s a public area and nothing can be done about it. If they come on private property, that’s another story. They cannot take guns on the Sheriff’s Office grounds. We have a secure jail facility there and they’re not gonna take guns down there,” he said.

Griffis said that he has received hate emails and all sorts of calls, “and again this has zero to do with the Second Amendment. It has to do with this group of individuals trying to intimidate law enforcement and keep them from enforcing the Governor’s Order.”

That order forbids bars from opening in the wake of COVID-19. The Monday protest was at the West Odessa bar Big Daddy Zane’s. Eight people, including the bar owner, were arrested. The bar owner, Gabrielle Ellison, was charged with violating the executive order and others were charged with carrying weapons on a property where alcohol is sold.

Griffis said that the incident Monday with armed organizers arrested could have gone very differently. He said that if she had opened without the group’s tactics, then, “We’d probably have wrote her a ticket and went on.”

Griffis said that he takes the threats very seriously and, “If I am approached or whatever, I will take appropriate action,” he said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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