By Ray King
A reported armed disturbance in the White Hall City Park on Oct. 29 resulted in the arrest of a White Hall man Sunday.
John Ratcliff, 43, was identified as the suspect after the alleged victims gave police the license plate number of the vehicle Ratcliff left the scene in.
During a court hearing Tuesday, Deputy Prosecutor Caleb Conrad said that three people who were in the park told police they had been threatened by a man who had been walking a small dog. The man, later identified as Ratcliff, reportedly asked the three people questions, then pulled out a black handgun and asked the alleged victims “Do we have a problem?” before getting into a vehicle and driving away.
White Hall Police Investigator Clayton Cantrell reported that the department’s “Sky Cop” camera system in the park recorded the incident and showed Ratcliff reaching for something and later leaving the park.
Conrad said the license plate number came back to Cantrell and White Hall officers were familiar with him and knew that he lived on Patrick Henry Drive. He was not questioned at that time because he was reportedly highly intoxicated.
Ratcliff’s wife told police he had come home and told her he “had fixed the problem” and explained that their son had recently been bullied at school. She gave officers permission to search the house and a handgun was located. Ratcliff was not arrested at that time because he had recently been tested for COVID-19 and the test results had not come back.
After learning on Sunday that Ratcliff’s test for COVID-19 was negative, he was arrested and when questioned he admitted talking to the three alleged victims but denied pulling or showing a firearm.
Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth set a $5,000 bond for Ratcliff Tuesday after ruling prosecutors have probable cause to charge him with three counts of aggravated assault. He was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victims and was prohibited from going to the White Hall City Park until the case is settled.