Columbia D.A. Dropped Charges Against Civilian with PTSD For Showing Up To School with an AR-15 – Did Police Ask Him to Be There?

Video of Roy Brooks, a former firefighter with a history of PTSD, on campus with Columbia police pointing his weapon at people – and an account by the principal – bring up more disturbing questions about Columbia PD’s response to an active shooter hoax last year, and seem to back up his attorney’s claim that they asked him to join them.

In August of 2023, Roy Brooks, a former firefighter in Columbia, Tennessee, was indicted by a Maury County grand jury on a charge of carrying a weapon on school property during a response to an active shooter call that turned out to be a hoax – despite Brooks not being a law enforcement officer, and having no official capacity with any response team.

In May of 2023, Brooks had reportedly responded in full tactical gear and carrying an AR-15 rifle to the scene when a call of an active shooter at Columbia Central High School came in. The call turned out to be a hoax. Charges were brought against Brooks by D.A. Brent Cooper, making headlines at the time.

Brooks was scheduled for trial in May of this year, but Cooper quietly dropped the charges right before it was scheduled to begin.

From Main Street Media:

Charges dropped against ex-Columbia firefighter Roy Brooks

Days before he was set to face trial for carrying a weapon on school property, former Columbia firefighter Roy Brooks saw his case dismissed instead.

District Attorney Brent Cooper made the announcement that the charge against Brooks would not be pursued. In a May 21 statement, Cooper said, “After doing an in-depth review of the facts of the case and the applicable law, I came to the conclusion that a jury may find reasonable doubt as to Mr. Brooks’ guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the ethical action was to submit an order of Nolle Prosequi, meaning that the State chooses not to proceed further with the case.”

If Brooks was on campus with an AR-15, which is not in dispute, and he was not a part of any law enforcement agency, the question becomes – why did D.A. Cooper drop the charges?

One possible explanation comes from Brooks’ attorney David Christensen, who claims Brooks had been asked to be at the scene by Columbia Police. From the Main Street article:

“His attorney, David Christensen, said at a November hearing that Brooks had in fact been asked to be at the scene. Brooks had previously served with Columbia’s S.W.A.T. unit and reportedly knew many of the officials who responded to the hoax.”

Brooks rejected a plea deal of one year of probation, choosing instead to face trial and a potential two-year prison sentence, which seems to show some real conviction about this explanation on his part.

It’s worth noting, as Main Street does, that Brooks was let go from the Fire Department under concerning circumstances, including claims of PTSD:

“Brooks was terminated in May 2022 by the Columbia Fire Department after multiple allegations against him, including sexual harassment and violation of the city’s sick leave policy. Columbia’s Civil Service Board upheld the firing in August 2022 and a federal wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Brooks was dismissed in January 2024.”

The Tennessee Star wrote about Brooks’ departure from the Fire Department when it happened, highlighting his PTSD in their story:

“A firefighter in Columbia, Tennessee, suffering from PTSD and undergoing treatment, was first demoted and then dismissed only four years before his retirement.

Roy Brooks, who served as a Firefighter Captain in the city of Columbia, was questioned during a meeting earlier this year by a Chief Officer asking if he was in a “dark place?”

Brooks tells us that this demonstrated that the Fire Department was aware that his behavior was not normal for him.

He was called in by the administration on April 11th and demoted from the rank of Captain to that of Firefighter for “3 separate incidents.”  Brooks told The Tennessee Conservative that this was the first time he had been made aware of two of the “incidents”.

During the meeting with the administration, Brooks was made to sign a last chance agreement form that should have been effective until his retirement in approximately four years.

Part of the agreement was for Brooks to attend Employee Assistance mental health Program (EAP) sessions.  Brooks tells us that he attended the sessions and additionally researched PTSD.

He used some of his accrued sick leave for the next several shifts due to panic attacks that occurred the nights before as he was packing and getting ready to go to work.

Brooks tells us that the time off made him realize how much he was suffering mentally and his acceptance of this prompted his wife to open up to him about his behavior over the past year.

“I had no idea what a bad place I was in,” Brooks said.”

That happened in 2022.

Just one year later, Brooks was on Columbia High’s campus with an AR-15. That much is not in dispute, and The Holler has now seen video of it. In the video (seen below in screen grabs, we do not yet have possession of the video itself), Brooks is very clearly walking with the police during their response to the scene in a manner that shows they were no doubt aware of his presence.

At one point in the video, Brooks can be seen pointing his AR-15 at cars with people in them.

Since Brooks had a history of PTSD-related issues with the fire department which resulted in him being let go, and he was not a police officer, if Columbia Police did ask him to show up with a weapon and join them as they moved on a building full of teachers and children it seems they are now the ones with questions to answer.

And we may not be alone in thinking as much. We have obtained the disciplinary file of recently terminated Columbia High principal Dr. Michael Steele, whose account of that day alleges Brooks was also INSIDE the building with the weapon, where students were located, and actually may have been “in a group” that pointed weapons at the Vice Principal.

In his account, Dr. Steele says he was not informed by law enforcement that Brooks had been on campus with the weapon, he was only informed by a “non-faculty coach” – who told him Brooks had at one point tried to “run him off the road” and was showing up at games, which Steele said he couldn’t do anything about:

“On August 15, 2023, one of my non-faculty coaches came to my office and informed me that he was having a problem with a former co-worker. He advised this co-worker followed him and attempted to run him off the road. He produced a police report and told me he was concerned about his former co-worker showing up at the game on Friday. Following our meeting, I informed my administration and SROs. I went on to advise the district safety coordinator, superintendent, and associate superintendent via phone. I was told by all three they were aware of this person but there was nothing I could do to him if he decided to attend the game. We went back and forth a few times, but ultimately I was told I could not ask this man to leave if he came to the game.”

At which point the coach told Dr. Steele about Brooks being on campus with the weapon:

“On August 22, 2023, my coach came back to my office and said, “Dr. Steele, this is your school, and you need to be aware of this. Back in May, (Brooks) came to your school with an AR15 assault rifle and joined with the SWAT Team to clear your building. (Brooks) has no affiliation with any law enforcement agency but did come on your campus with a weapon.”

Steele says he went to Superintendent Lisa Ventura about it:

“On the morning of August 23, 2023, I emailed Mrs. Ventura and Mr. Stacey and requested an urgent meeting to discuss this issue. Mrs. Ventura responded and said she would be in my office at 8:30am. I explained to Mrs. Ventura how concerned I was that I was never notified in May that a man armed with an AR-15 entered my school. I went on to explain why it was important for me to know about what is happening in my school. I’m going to paraphrase what Mrs. Ventura said: “Dr. Steele, not everyone needed to know. This man was a threat and should have been arrested in May. I had to go over the Sheriff’s head and report this to the Tennessee Department of Investigation (TBI). We’ve been watching this man and he sits out on his front porch in full tactical gear watching Mt. Pleasant middle school. We see him on camera entering your school.He pulls up in his POV, slings on his AR15 and enters your school with the SWAT team. He was also in the group that pointed his weapon at Ms. Cathey (Assistant Principal).

Note: This meeting lasted fifty minutes, and during that entire time Mrs. Ventura affirms that (Brooks) entered my school with an assault rifle. She goes on to say she deemed him a threat and he should have been arrested.”

Steele says he was very bothered by his talk with Ventura:

“After our meeting, I was very disturbed. I knew there had to be several things missing in this entire event, but there is never any justification for not notifying the schools principal and SROs… (Brooks) had no affiliation with law enforcement and should never have been on campus. Furthermore, it was public knowledge that (Brooks) was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. There was absolutely no excuse for not letting me and my SROs know about this incident, and to find out about it almost three months later from a non-faculty coach is still very disturbing to me. I/we had every reason to believe that there was a threat looming for those two and a half months. It wasn’t till much later we found out (Brooks) was a former SWAT medic, and he knew several if not all the SWAT team that responded in May.

That same day, I called the Chairman of the School Board and reported Mrs. Ventura’s actions. I explained how frustrated I was, and he agreed, I should have been notified. He went on to say, he nor the school board were ever notified as well. During that conversation, I told the Board Chair, that it gave me no pleasure, but I felt compelled to file a grievance for hostile work environment and dereliction of duty. He said he understood and that he was not happy at all with how this was handled. That same day, I filed a grievance against Mrs. Ventura.”

Steele then goes on to say he, not Ventura, was suspended – then reinstated:

“On Friday, August 25, 2023, Mrs. Ventura came to my school to have a fifteen-minute meeting with my staff. During that meeting, Mrs. Ventura was not being transparent in my opinion, so I asked her a question. I asked, “Did you or did you not tell me you thought (Brooks) was a threat?” Mrs. Ventura was not happy with my question and told me I could leave or go home. Approximately 40 minutes later, I was suspended without pay pending an investigation. On September 8, 2023, I was reinstated as the principal of Columbia Central High School but received this reprimand.”

Steele ends the account with:

“I should not have been lied to for nearly fifty minutes by my superintendent. This entire incident could have been handled very easily, but there are several political factors at play, and trying to cover those things has proven challenging.

This is a synopsis of events. The entire story is even more compelling, but I did not want to bother whoever may read this with a ten-page response. If this comes up in the future, please offer me an opportunity to answer questions or explain in detail.”

We reached out to Dr. Steele to let him explain, but so far have not heard back. His contract with Columbia High was not renewed, but East Limestone High in Alabama just announced he has been hired there.

Again: Brooks claims, through his attorney, that he was asked to be there during the response by law enforcement. Judging by the fact that the charges were dropped, it seems D.A. Cooper thinks Brooks may have a point.

If so, the question then becomes: Why did law enforcement ask Brooks to be there with an AR-15, on a campus full of children, despite the fact that Brooks is not law enforcement, and has a history of PTSD-related issues that played a part in his termination from the fire department?

And if someone did ask Brooks to be there that day, who was it? Should they not themselves face discipline? Had this happened before? Is the city’s insurance company aware that this happens? Who knows about this, and are they trying to cover it up?

Very often, the cover-up is just as bad or worse than the crime.

Additionally, Brooks appeared to point his weapon in the direction of at least one person outside the building that day, as seen in the pics above. Did he do the same inside, as Dr. Steele says the superintendent told him? Is there video of it from inside the building? What would have happened if God forbid Brooks had shot someone?

We also emailed some questions to D.A. Cooper, and will update this post if he responds.

After the reports that Johnson City Police were possibly taking bribes to cover for serial rapist Sean Williams, another question we have is: Who is policing the police in Tennessee?

With our state having just passed a bill to potentially allow teachers to carry weapons inside schools, this incident also brings up a lot of questions about whether or not more weapons inside these building actually makes our children safer.

More questions than answers. But getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular incident would likely go a long way towards keeping our kids safer in school, and making sure nothing like it happens again.

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