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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The Holler


Lyrics by Tom Johnson and Jay Orsi Music by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe Recorded and all instruments performed by Steve Goodie Backup vocals by Steve Goodie and Deb Guy





As the Maury County Holler reported this week, rumor at Mulefest on Saturday was Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles would NOT be running for both re-election and the open TN-5 congressional seat, but would instead be relinquishing his hold on the mayor’s office to focus on the crowded circus of a TN-5 primary.

Word was the Maury GOP would then throw their weight behind former TN House GOP Rep Sheila Butt for mayor.

Well, the Maury Holler appears to have been correct. Butt has just posted a picture of herself dropping off her petition to run for Maury mayor.

This is noteworthy because even in a party that has come to stand for anti-LGBT hate, anti-Muslim hate, and, yes, racism, Sheila stands out from the crowd.

Butt’s anti-LGBT hate is blatant and right out in the open. Would you like some examples, with receipts? That’s what we’re here for. Let’s begin…

She has said homosexuality is a “slippery slope” to pedophilia and a “godless” “horrific” “immoral” culture:

She told Maury County residents to steer clear of downtown Columbia because of a PRIDE block party:

She even put her name on whatever the hell this is:

BUTTT it isn’t just about her hatred for our LGBTQ brothers & sisters.

She is also deeply anti-Muslim, and once even called for Christian and WHITE organizations to form in opposition to CAIR.

She’s also as anti-reproductive freedom as they come, advocating for the ban of all abortions without exceptions for rape, and even going as far as to say most instances of rape are “not verifiable” – a comment for which she was admonished by one of her Democratic House colleagues:

And if all that wasn’t enough, Butt once openly disparaged the idea of interracial marriage in her book, saying women who date outside of their race are often less desirable to those of their own races afterwards:

And these are just a few of her greatest hits. There is undoubtedly plenty more.

In today’s GOP, does harboring racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-woman views count as baggage? Or is that, in fact, her qualifying resume?

Judging by the word that the party is already in the tank for her, we probably have her answer.

How can LGBT people, Muslims, People of Color, women – or anyone really – feel safe in the community knowing Butt is their mayor? Is being this hateful what Maury County is looking for in a mayor? We hope it isn’t. We fear it is.

Ogles was hateful. Butt may somehow be worse. We have to be better than this.

And we truly hope other members of the media, particularly in Maury County, will remind people what Butt is really all about.

Sen Johnson Didn’t Want to Talk About How He’s Hurting Poor People

“How come you’re raising BANK FEES ON POOR PEOPLE but not the minimum wage? Will you be pushing your RUN-OVER-A-PROTESTOR BILL?” We asked Sen. Jack Johnson (R-WILLIAMSON COUNTY) why he’s targeting poor people and putting protestors in danger. He didn’t seem to want to talk.


Wallen & Combs Should Call for The TN Capitol’s KKK Statue To Be Removed

OPINION: Country Stars Wallen & Combs Should Call for The TN Capitol’s KKK Statue To Be Removed


Justin Kanew

By now most of you have seen the recent video of Morgan Wallen using the “N word” in Nashville, which shook the country music world.

His label dropped him. Radio stations stopped playing his songs. The fallout was significant. 

This opinion piece by Charlane Oliver of the Equity Alliance tackles the racial significance of the incident as it pertains to country music. It’s a worthwhile read.

Now this week we heard from another country star, Luke Combs, who says “there’s no excuse” for his use of Confederate flag imagery in his performances, and acknowledges the hurt and pain it caused.

Both artists are apologetic, and seek forgiveness. But apologies are easy. There’s another step they could take that would help bring about some actual progress – not only in country music, but in Nashville specifically, Tennessee in general, and America as a whole.

They could speak out about the KKK Grand Wizard statue that still sits prominently in our capitol.

Yes, you heard that right – Tennessee still holds a statue of the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, in a place of prominence in the state capitol building. Forrest was a Confederate General who led the Fort Pillow Massacre, during which many black Union soldiers were slaughtered even after surrender, then went on to become the KKK’s first Grand Wizard.

Defenders of the Forrest bust claim he was eventually reformed. That he changed his tune in his later years. Regardless of the veracity of that claim, they can’t erase the harm he caused, and what he represents to the many black Tennesseans who have been calling for the statue’s removal.

Legislators like Rep. Mike Sparks, who refuses to even admit the Civil War was fought over slavery, say they’re against “whitewashing history” – ignoring the fact that it’s the statues themselves that whitewash history, treating Confederate generals who rose up against our country as heroes.

There’s a reason KKK members posed proudly with the statue when it was erected.

The fight to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue has been going on for years. There have been countless protests. Pastors, students, activists, and legislators have all made their voices heard… but still it remains.

Last year a big hurdle was overcome, as the Tennessee State Capitol Commission finally voted to move it despite “NO” votes from Senator Jack Johnson on behalf of the TN Senate Republican caucus and Rep. Matthew Hill on behalf of the TN House Republican caucus.

The next step was supposed to come this week, when the Tennessee Historical Commission was scheduled to vote on the Capitol Commission’s recommendation, but because of the cold weather it has been delayed until March 9th.

Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Randy Mcnally and Speaker Cameron Sexton have been busy trying to delay it even further, claiming the issue isn’t properly before the Historical Commission and asking the attorney general to weigh in with an opinion.

Delay, delay, delay. It’s obvious Mcnally and Sexton and their caucuses are doing all they can to keep this hurtful statue in place because the cries of black Tennesseans and their allies are not enough.

But what if they were to hear from entirely different voices? What if Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs were to show they truly do understand how much pain their words and actions have caused, and speak out about the bust, encouraging Mcnally and Sexton to drop their challenge to its removal, and asking the Historical commission to vote to remove it once and for all?

It would be a healing moment for country music, our state, and their souls.

“These elected officials aren’t listening to black Tennesseans,” says Pastor Chris Williamson of Strong Tower Bible Church, who has been involved with the statue issue for quite some time, and recently spoke out about it at a hearing. “They aren’t even listening to their black colleagues who have to walk by that statue every day and be reminded of what it represents. Maybe white country music stars are exactly who they need to hear from. Words of encouragement from Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs for them to do the right thing could go a long way.”

A long way indeed.

Taking a position on this controversial topic probably wouldn’t be easy for country music stars like Wallen & Combs. But very often doing the right thing isn’t.


Justin Kanew is the founder of the Tennessee Holler. Foller him on Twitter here.

How MNPD Responds to Drugs Versus Bombs

“I’d like to see some level of acknowledgment from Metropolitan Nashville Police Department that if it had been drugs instead of bombs that would have triggered different levels of alarm.”
Nashville Council Member Bob Mendes on how MNPD was tipped off about the bomber 16 months ago but did nothing.

PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.


Evacuation Before Nashville Bombing


Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has released Officer Sipos’ BODY CAM footage of the moment the Nashville Bombing occurred. They demonstrated heroic courage and calm under pressure.




On November 3rd Donald Trump lost the presidential election. I know it’s hard for some people to hear that, but that’s all the more reason it needs to be said. It was close in some key swing states, but President-Elect Joe Biden is now up by tens of thousands of votes even in those states, and Republican secretaries of state across the country are telling us there is zero real evidence of widespread fraud. 

Obviously that hasn’t stopped President Trump from refusing to accept defeat. He told us he would only accept the outcome if he won before the election, and he has followed through. He now tweets incessantly, day after day about how he has been cheated – pointing to vote counts being changed, dead people voting, Republican observers not being allowed into the counting rooms… all of which have been debunked one by one by one. Trump is tweeting about fraud publicly while his lawyers admit in court, under oath, that they are not actually saying any such fraud took place.

Simply put, there is no evidence of widespread fraud. He is lying. There is no debating that. 

What is up for debate is why. Is it simply so he can drag this out as long as possible to give himself more time to milk money from his supporters? Money which he claims is going to help him fight the lawsuits he keeps losing, but which the fine print tells us he is stuffing into his own pockets

Or does he really think he can take this all the way to the end and overturn this election with the help of Republican-held state legislatures, who would have to turn their backs on democracy, throw out the results of the election in their states, and assign their electors to him without any justification for doing so?

One would hope he knows the latter is an impossibility, since it would essentially mean the end of The American Experiment.

One would hope he would understand that even Republicans in his party would deem that to be a bridge too far.

But would they? If they’re anything like the Republicans in Tennessee, perhaps not. 

So far here in Tennessee, the only prominent Republicans who have been willing to acknowledge that Joe Biden is president-elect are ex-Senators Bob Corker and Bill Frist. Senator Lamar Alexander has said nothing. Governor Lee has expressed his support for Trump’s efforts, as have Senator Marsha Blackburn, senator-elect Bill Hagerty, and both chambers of the Tennessee supermajority legislature. The Tennessee Republican delegation of congressmen have also gone right along with the charade, including Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who told a news network “what we’re seeing is fraud,” but when pressed for specifics pointed to Nevada – where the 3000 ballots in question had already turned out to be mostly military families who had been transferred.

Is this what it has come to, Republicans? One can only imagine the outrage they would be demonstrating had Hillary Clinton refused to concede, especially if she had a 5 million vote deficit in the popular vote rather than the 3 million advantage she ended up with (in fact, they did rip her viciously for even just having questions in the aftermath of 2016).

Or worse yet, imagine their reaction if Obama were doing any of this. 

Perhaps they think they’re just humoring Trump, and that at the end of the day this will have no lasting impact after he inevitably leaves the White House. But that’s shortsighted. Tennessee Republicans had a chance to stand up, finally show some leadership and backbone, and say enough is enough. Instead, they signed up to join this circus and help Trump trash our election process, a favor to our anti-Democracy enemies that ultimately means Trump’s loyal following of millions of Americans will now forever believe this was a rigged election. 

Nobody knows what lasting impact that will have in the days, weeks, and years to come, but what we do know is Tennessee Republicans have shown us they put their loyalty to Trump and their own self-preservation ahead of their commitment to the democratic process that undergirds the very notion of America, and that in itself is the opposite of patriotism.

Free and fair elections, respecting the will of the people, is what makes us who we are as a country. Republicans love to invoke the Founding Fathers when convenient, but any objective reading of their intentions makes it clear they set up our constitution to guard against efforts to drag us back towards the authoritarianism our country was established in opposition to, the tyranny they fought and bled to keep us away from in favor of the freedom to elect our own leaders and center the people’s voice. A freedom many brave Americans have since died to preserve.

This is a dark path we’re heading down, one few would have believed possible even just a few short years ago. This has already become a black eye on our nation’s history, and the further down this road we go, the bigger the stain will be on the reputations of this crop of Tennessee Republicans – a stain which will not soon come off.

Justin Kanew is the Founder of the Tennessee Holler


MEMPHIS TN House candidate Torrey Harris talks about running against ex-Democrat John Deberry and being an openly gay candidate in Tennessee.

PODCAST VERSION available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.