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Andrews stabbing 911 calls from Dec. 21, 2019

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Andrews – A jailhouse beef may have been the motive for a stabbing attack that occurred on a town street.

    A 29-year-old man suffered six cut wounds after a drive-by stabbing on the morning of Dec. 21. A witness told an emergency dispatcher that she and the victim were walking when someone driving a black Ford Ranger pulled up beside them.
    “They pulled up beside us, jumped out of the vehicle and stabbed him,” the woman said, according to a copy of the 911 call obtained by the Cherokee Scout through a public records request.
    The incident happened around 4 a.m. near the intersection of Sixth and Chestnut streets, according to police who say they found the victim and a companion near the steps of Andrews Elementary School.
    The witness told a dispatcher the incident happened about three minutes prior to when she called for help, and that the victim was “about to pass out” from loss of blood.
    “It’s very bad. It’s very, very deep,” she said, describing one of the stab wounds. “It’s in the back of his shoulder blade, like in the crease of where his arm bends ... very deep, like 3 inches at least.”
    During the five minutes and 45 seconds before police arrived, the dispatcher told the witness to keep the victim awake and tried to obtain more information about the attack. The witness said three people were in the vehicle, and she identified two of them by name. She also relayed the direction in which the suspects fled.
    After the witness removed the victim’s shirt and counted the number of visible stab wounds, the dispatcher asked whether she was aware of any “previous beef” between the victim and the person who stabbed him.
    “I don’t know. I guess they fought in jail,” the witness said. “I guess they had a fight in jail or something. I don’t know ... um, a while back.”
    The victim was flown to a hospital out of Cherokee County, where he was listed in stable condition Friday.
    The suspect, identified as 25-year-old Dustin Aaron Pressley, was arrested by members of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 26 following a 45-minute standoff. Officers were searching for him in connection with several outstanding warrants when they received a tip that Pressley was in a home on Maltby Road in Marble around 7:45 p.m. Thursday.
    “He barricaded himself in the house and wouldn’t come out,” Cherokee County Sheriff Derrick Palmer said. “There was a concern that he might try to hurt himself with a weapon that was in the house.
    “To my knowledge, he never threatened law enforcement with it. But that’s the reason why we didn’t immediately go in the house and get him. We wanted to convince him to come out peacefully, and luckily he did.”
    It’s unclear whether the other people in the car with Pressley will face charges for their alleged roles in the stabbing.

Hillbilly Mall fire 911 calls from Dec. 23, 2019

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  Andrews – Sadly, this will likely happen again.
    A fire ignited inside the former Hillbilly Mall on Dec. 23, destroying at least one building. The blaze also damaged the structural integrity of the main building, which will need a new roof and purlins if the next owner plans to keep it.
    “There’s significant heat and roof damage,” Cherokee County Commissioner Cal Stiles said. He and his wife, Janet, own property adjacent to the 28 acres off U.S. 19/74 that house what was last known as Bear Ridge Mall and Bear Ridge Speedway, a go-kart track.
    Firefighters were dispatched to 200 Stewart Road around 7:45 a.m., and the first arriving units found heavy smoke and flames shooting out of the building. It took firefighters 45 minutes to knock down the blaze, which later rekindled around 2 p.m.
    “A bunch of cubicles were in the main part that caught on fire,” Valleytown Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department Chief Justin Hyde said. “It looked like it might have been an office space at one time.”
    Complicating matters, the fire hydrant nearest the building was dry, forcing firefighters to pump water out of a nearby creek to extinguish the blaze. About 20 volunteers from Valleytown helped battle the fire, while only three firefighters from the Andrews Volunteer Fire Department answered the call. Cherokee County Emergency Medical Services sent two units and a supervisor as well.
    Since the fire happened within town limits, Hyde declined to comment on the cause of the blaze, deferring to Andrews fire personnel to make that determination.
    The Cherokee Scout toured the property several hours after the fire, and again the following day. Soot covered the floor and ceiling of nearly every section throughout the building. Yet, it was very clear that people had recently used the property as shelter, and possibly as a temporary residence.
    Several makeshift burn stations were situated throughout the building, with leftover charcoal and paper inside metal lids. A coat, duffle bag and candy were left next to one burn station, while several empty fire extinguishers littered the floor next to one in a different section of the property.
    Couches, tires, a bed mattress and used hydraulic oil barrels were just some of the flammable materials located in various areas of the building. Bathroom toilets throughout the property were full of human waste, and a huge pile of trash rested outside one of the structures, which may eventually become an environmental hazard.
    “Due to an absentee owner, and a foreclosure with no direct supervision of the property, the community is concerned about the adverse effect this will have on the neighborhood,” Stiles said.
    The property used to be owned by Robert William Smith and Judith Ann Smith before they defaulted on a loan, leading to a foreclosure sale, which took place at the Cherokee County Courthouse steps in downtown Murphy on Nov. 4.
    Foreclosure documents show Smith used the property as collateral to borrow $1.5 million from United Bank in West Virginia in 2013. The Smiths still owed the bank more than $1.2 million at the time of the foreclosure sale, which drew no bidders.
    “With the mall wide open for vagrants and no security – and now, unfortunately, a fire at the mall – that building has become a zoning, safety and health issue,” Stiles said. “This is a real liability issue for someone and a security concern for our neighborhood.”

PREGAME SHOW: Murphy vs. Robbinsville for the conference title

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     Watch as Cherokee Scout sports writer Noah Shatzer, Graham Star editor Kevin Hensley and special guest former Black Knights reporter Zelerie Rogers as they preview tonight's showdown between Murphy and Robbinsville in the biggest game in Western North Carolina.

Jack Rhodes remembered by fellow veterans

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 World War II veteran Jack Rhodes was honored by fellow veterans Saturday in Cherokee County. Read more about Rhodes' life and honors in the March 27 edition of the Cherokee Scout.

Murphy High student Logan Palmer battles rare disease

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   Murphy High School senior Logan Palmer talked to the Cherokee Scout recently about his battle with McArdle Disease. Read more about his struggles and his goal to raise awareness of the disease in the March 20 edition of the Cherokee Scout.

Donkey Ball returns to Hiwassee Dam

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   Donkey basketball returned to Hiwassee Dam High School on Thursday night. Enjoy some of the hijinks here and read more about it in the March 20 edition of the Cherokee Scout.