‘They’re yelling at us and they have guns:’ Teens say fire chief held them at gunpoint after turning around in driveway

Two Upstate teens say they were followed and told to get out of their truck at gunpoint. (Source: WHNS)
Published: Jun. 20, 2023 at 11:00 AM EDT
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ANDERSON, S.C. (WHNS/Gray News) - Two South Carolina teens say they were followed and told to get out of their truck at gunpoint because they turned around in someone’s driveway, WHNS reports.

In a lawsuit, the parents of the teens say the people following them were an Anderson County fire chief and his son. It alleges the two men assaulted the teens by chasing them at high speeds and then falsely imprisoned them at gunpoint.

The incident happened in August 2022, when the teens got lost while they were scouting out places to hunt geese along Lake Hartwell.

The lawsuit states that they decided to turn around in a driveway that belonged to Townville Fire Chief Billy McAdams.

“We just made a quick turnaround as we went by, we kind of just waved, and it looks like someone jumped up pretty quickly,” one of the teens told Oconee County 911. “And then all of a sudden, both of them were on our tail in no time trying to like cut us off and stuff like that.”

McAdams admitted in a court filing that he and his son did pursue the teens in separate cars. Later in the 911 calls, McAdams was heard explaining he recently had several break-ins and thought the teens were robbers.

As the teens were on the phone with 911, they left Anderson County and entered Oconee County. Meanwhile, McAdams radioed Anderson County dispatch, telling operators he didn’t have his cell phone.

“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 operator from Anderson County was heard telling the operator in Oconee County.

While Anderson County dispatch tried to make sense of the call, Oconee County found out that the situation was escalating.

“They’re yelling at us and they have guns,” one teen told 911.

The 911 operator asks the teen if McAdams and his son had guns pointed at them.

“One has a gun,” the teen said.

The operator tells the teen to “stay in the car and lock the doors.”

“Yes, we can’t. They’re making us get out of the car with guns,” the teen said.

McAdams admitted in the court filing that he told the teens to lie down in the road while he pointed his gun at them.

Meanwhile, the Oconee County 911 dispatcher told Anderson County to tell McAdams to put his gun away. However, the dispatcher said McAdams disconnected.

According to the incident report, McAdams put his pistol away when he realized how young the teens were.

The dispatcher asked the teen to put McAdams on the phone.

“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 dispatcher said.

Deputies from Oconee County arrived and interviewed everyone involved. The incident report said a judge thought there was enough probable cause to issue a warrant for McAdams but added a warrant would have to be issued for the teens, too.

Investigators wrote in their report that after struggling to get in contact with the parties involved, the case was closed.

Nearly eight months later, the mothers of the teens filed a lawsuit suing McAdams and his son, which alleges McAdams falsely imprisoned the teens, assaulted them and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

McAdams denied those claims in the lawsuit but admitted to pursuing the teens for about 15 minutes, raising his voice at them and even pointing his gun at them and ordering them to the ground.

According to another court filing, the chief admits to following the teens but he and his son deny those charges.

His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jimmy Watt said investigators with the criminal investigations bureau reopened the case after they learned about new information.