Fortunately, no one injured in local shootout!

Published 5:19 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003

By By Lloyd Albritton
As most of you know, I am not an employee of the Atmore Advance and I don't do hard news reports. I just write columns and try to pass a little humor your way whenever I can. The story I am about to tell you, however, came to me as a factual account of an incident which happened just a few days ago in the vicinity of Nokomis and Perdido, just off Highway 31. My old friend, Van Johnson, called the story in to me. Van and I have been close friends since childhood and we share a fondness for humorous stories. A locally renowned storyteller, Van's stories are often bigger than life. Now, I'm not saying that Van would embellish or exaggerate a story to enhance its appeal, but just the same anyway, I confirmed the story with an actual eyewitness and I'm going to give it to you just like it was given to me. Even so, I would prefer that you take this account as a funny story and do not hold me accountable for any errors that may subsequently arise.
Before I share this story with you, let me first confess that I have done a few stupid things myself over the years and this could happen to anybody. I once cut a live wire with a butcher knife (assuming it was dead) and was almost electrocuted. The shock knocked me off a ladder and almost burned the knife blade in half. Another time I tethered a big bowling ball to my horse's lead rope to teach her to ground tie. That bright idea resulted in a runaway horse with a bowling ball flailing all about and beating her half to death before I could get control of the situation. I'm sure we have all done stupid things, so it is not my intent to disparage a dutiful deputy sheriff who just wants to stay alive.
Local resident Pete Powell has been having some trouble with deer getting into his pea patch, a 10-acre parcel down behind his house on Highway 31. Pete decided to try an idea which would make sense to most any of us. He borrowed a propane blaster from a friend and put it in his pea patch to keep the deer out through the night. For those of you who do not know what a propane blaster is, I will explain it to like it was explained to me. It is a standard 5-gallon propane tank with a timer switch on it, which slowly releases propane from the bottle through a little tube, which is set off by a timed igniter switch. In Pete's case, he set the timer to go off about every twenty seconds. The resulting explosion sounds very much like a shotgun blast.
Pete did not foresee the noise bothering anybody, as there are no houses close by and country folk are not nearly as picky about such things as city folk. Pete was wrong, however, and as the sound of the sporadic blasts traveled up the creek a local resident heard it and call a report in to the Sheriff's Department. A local deputy responded to the call at about 5:00 A.M. on Tuesday morning. Cautiously approaching the scene of the disturbance in his squad car, the deputy heard the blasts and saw the blue flame through the woods each time the igniter set off a charge. Assuming that he was being fired upon, the deputy immediately called for backup, got down behind his car with his shotgun, and began returning fire. Pete was awakened by the conspicuous warfare and promptly got on his golf cart and rode down to the pea patch to see what was going on. By this time two more squad cars had arrived and six deputies were poised for battle with the unknown assailant hiding in the woods and shooting at them.
Pete promptly explained to the deputies the source of the blasts and everyone stood down with much relief. Naturally, when a police officer finds it necessary to fire his weapon, reports must be made and the word soon gets around. In this case, I am told that the poor deputy sheriff who reacted with such dutiful vigor was subjected to more than a little embarrassment. I'm confident that he was properly chastened by his superiors and has received more than a little ribbing from his fellow officers. I do not know the deputy's name and would not report it for this strictly humorous account even if I did. Fortunately, no one got hurt and the propane tank got away OK.

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