Rep. Trey Gowdy , R-SC, speaks at a hearing on oversight and government reform. (gowdy.house.gov)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -
Police arrested an Atlanta woman who they said pointed a gun at Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC 4th District, outside of a Spartanburg church Sunday.
Spartanburg Public Safety officers said Gloria Brackett, 52, approached Gowdy as he was sitting in his car at Spartanburg First Baptist church about 8 p.m.
Brackett told Gowdy to quit following her and he replied that he wasn't following her, that he was waiting to pick up a family member from church, police said.
She then pointed a gun at him in a threatening manner, according to Spartanburg Public Safety Director A. Tony Fisher. He said Gowdy backed up and took off, with Brackett chasing after him, running through the church parking lot.
Gowdy drove directly to the police station, which is about four blocks away, reported what was happening, then was escorted back to the church to pick up his family member, Fisher said.
Fisher said officers immediately began an intense and extensive search of the area for the suspect, and located her when she flagged down an officer outside of a nearby bus stop, saying someone was following her.
According to Fisher, Brackett had been at the bus stop earlier in the morning after a family member had dropped her off for her to return to Atlanta. He said she had been in town visiting family who live in Cowpens, and before they left, she took a relative's gun without permission.
Brackett decided to leave the bus stop and walk over to the church, which is a block away, Fisher said. He said people had seen her around and sitting on the church steps but no one saw her encounter with Gowdy.
When she saw Gowdy sitting in his car, she apparently thought he was following her and walked up to his car to tap on his window, according to Fisher. Police said when they arrested her, she had a handgun loaded with four bullets and another box of bullets inside her purse.
Fisher said officials are fairly certain she did not know he was a congressman, but they are working with federal officials, the solicitor's office and the U.S. Attorney's Office to determine if additional charges can and should be filed.
To their knowledge, Fisher said Brackett has had similar incidents in the Atlanta area, though do not know if they involved public officials. He said she has had "police contact" with the Atlanta police, Fulton, Jackson and Gwinnett county sheriffs' offices.
Fisher said officers have spent the last 12 to 14 hours vetting Brackett and based on everything they can get, there is nothing to suggest she is associated with an extremist or political group opposed to Gowdy's ideas.
Relative says woman thought congressman was stalker
Brackett's mother Corrie Brackett told FOX Carolina her daughter had been in town visiting for about a week and took her gun, which was locked in a nightstand, without her knowledge.
Corrie Brackett said she dropped her daughter off at the bus stop for her to return to Atlanta, but when she changed her mind, she tried to get her uncle to come pick her up so she could stay in Cowpens. She said he didn't answer, so she decided to walk home because it was not too far.
When Brackett was walking by the church, she saw Gowdy pull up, and thought it was a man who has allegedly stalked Brackett in Atlanta, according to Corrie Brackett.
Brackett's mom said she thinks that's why her daughter took the gun, to protect herself from a stalker.
Corrie Brackett said her daughter has mental issues and has been dealing with them for some time. She said she does not know if someone has been stalking her daughter or not, but she hopes her daughter can get help.
Brackett called her mother from jail and said she was sorry, that she honestly thought it was a man stalking her in Georgia, and Corrie Brackett said she is also very sorry for the Gowdy family.
Corrie Brackett said she is glad no one was hurt.
In a statement released by his office to FOX Carolina, Gowdy said he wanted to thank the police for their help and caring for his family member and he will let the criminal justice process take its course.
Brackett was charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol and pointing/presenting a firearm.
During Brackett's bond hearing, Solicitor Barry Barnette said she was a flight risk, danger to the community and had possible mental health problems. He asked the judge for a mental health evaluation.
The judge continued the case until a public defender can complete an evaluation, delaying her bond, but it was not denied. The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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