Hundreds of threatening calls flood 911, WSPD lines

A Peace Valley man went to City Hall demanding to see the Willow Springs mayor after he received a citation for disorderly conduct. The man’s video of the confrontation was posted online, and the next day Willow Springs Police Department and Howell County 911 phone lines rang “constantly.”
 
Callers from coast to coast and as far away as Puerto Rico flooded the phones with vulgar language and death threats, Police Chief Wes Ellison reported. WSPD shut down its business lines Wednesday night. Howell County 911 lines rang “constantly,” 911 Director Nate Franks said. The dispatchers must answer each call as if it is an emergency, and the deluge of calls created, “a pretty heavy burden,” Franks said. 
 
By Friday, the business rollover connection between WSPD and HC 911 had been shut down. 
 
Hundreds of callers were reportedly protesting corruption in the WSPD. James Fish, the creator of a YouTube channel called “Lucky Laptop News,” called Howell County News Thursday morning outside business hours, apparently in response to the News’ announcement about this phone line closure.  
 
In the message, Fish described the callers as “people who know our rights,” and referred to an incident in which he was “aggravated” at City Hall. He suggested, “you might want to investigate the news about the corruption in your town.”
 
Fish’s YouTube channel features a video of the May 14 interaction at City Hall. Fish can be seen confronting Chief Ellison, City Administrator Beverly Hicks, and Assistant Chief Alan Lewis about the citation he received for disorderly conduct. 
 
Fish alleges the citation is, “un-Constitutional,” and that the issuing officer, Paden Turnbull, “committed a felony” by “running [Fish] off a public easement.” He further protests that “flipping off a cop” is an action that is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be disorderly conduct. He says multiple times that he “has enough for a lawsuit,” against the city of Willow Springs. 
 
According to the narrative of the citation issued on May 11, Officer Turnbull was called to Industrial Dr. for a report of a man, later identified as Fish, “harassing people at the car show” hosted at Bear Crossing Truck and Tire Wash. Fish’s YouTube channel also has a video of his interactions at the car show, and the process of the organizers asking him to leave the property. A separate video records Fish’s interaction with Officer Turnbull. 
 
After leaving the car show, Fish pulled to the roadside and began “protesting the business,” as he says in the video. According to the citation, he was “continuing to yell and film people.” The videos in question contain profanity and strong language.
The officer asks Fish to leave. Fish objects that he is within his rights to remain where he is. 
 
When Fish appeared at the police station last Monday morning to file a complaint against Officer Turnbull, Chief Ellison served him with a citation for disorderly conduct. WSPD would not release a copy of the complaint Fish filed, stating that it is part of the ongoing investigation. 
 
Fish also filed complaints about the two Howell County Sheriff's Deputies who were present when Officer Turnbull asked him to leave the roadside. According to those complaints, Deputies Travis Weaver and Avery Stolba “witnessed a cop trying to run me off public property under threat of arrest, which is a felony.”
 
The interaction at City Hall was posted to YouTube on May 14 and the threatening phone calls that shut down local police lines began on May 15. By 7:00 p.m. that day, business lines were shut down, and 911 took over.
 
“911 will only be taking emergency calls,” clarified City Administrator Hicks. “Any non-emergent calls received over the nights and weekends, will be addressed when regular staff opens on the following business day.”
 
Assistant Chief Lewis and Director Franks told Howell County News Monday morning that the threatening calls had largely stopped. 
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