Upstate teens say fire chief held them at gunpoint after turning around in driveway

‘They’re yelling at us and they have guns’
Two Upstate teens say they were followed and told to get out of their truck at gunpoint. That's because they turned around in someone's driveway.
Published: Jun. 19, 2023 at 7:04 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2023 at 9:48 AM EDT
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ANDERSON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Two Upstate teens say they were followed and told to get out of their truck at gunpoint because they turned around in someone’s driveway.

In a lawsuit, the parents of the teens say the people following them were an Anderson County fire chief and his son. It alleges the two men assaulted the teens by chasing them at high speeds and then falsely imprisoned them at gunpoint.

According to another court filing, the chief admits to following the teens but he and his son deny those charges.

A viewer asked FOX Carolina Investigates why no charges were filed after the incident happened last summer, so our team filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to get the case file from the incident.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office turned over the case report and never-before-heard 911 calls and radio dispatches. In the same email, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jimmy Watt said investigators with the criminal investigations bureau reopened the case after they learned about new information.

The incident started on August 29, 2022, when two teens, scouting out places to hunt geese along Lake Hartwell, got lost. The lawsuit stated that they decided to turn around in a driveway that belonged to Townville Fire Chief Billy McAdams.

“We just made a quick turnaround as we went by, we kind of just waved, and it looks like someone jumped up pretty quickly,” one of the teens told Oconee County 911. “And then all of a sudden, both of them were on our tail in no time trying to like cut us off and stuff like that.”

McAdams admitted in a court filing that he and his son did pursue the teens in separate cars. Later in the 911 calls, McAdams was heard explaining he recently had several break-ins and thought the teens were robbers.

As the teens were on the phone with 911, they left Anderson County and entered Oconee County. Meanwhile, McAdams radioed Anderson County dispatch, telling operators he didn’t have his cell phone.

“He’s giving us updates like he’s trying to be an officer, I’m not really -- I’m not really following what’s happening,” the operator from Anderson County was heard telling the operator in Oconee County.

While Anderson County dispatch tried to make sense of the call, Oconee County found out that the situation was escalating.

“They’re yelling at us, and they have guns,” one teen told 911.

“They have guns pointed at you now?” the operator asked.

“One has a gun,” the teen said.

“OK, OK, listen to me. Stay in the car and lock the doors. OK, don’t get out. Don’t yell at them. OK?” the operator said.

“Yes, we can’t. They’re making us get out of the car with guns,” the teen said.

McAdams admitted in the court filing that he told the teens to lie down in the road while he pointed his gun at them.

Meanwhile, the Oconee County 911 dispatcher told Anderson County to tell McAdams to put his gun away. However, the dispatcher said McAdams disconnected.

According to the incident report, McAdams put his pistol away when he realized how young the teens were. The dispatcher then asked the teen to put McAdams on the phone.

“Billy, can you get in your vehicle and just not talk to them and separate yourself from them? We’ve got people headed that way,” she said.

Deputies from Oconee County arrived and interviewed everyone involved. The incident report said a judge thought there was enough probable cause to issue a warrant for McAdams but added a warrant would have to be issued for the teens, too. FOX Carolina Investigates is working to find out why.

Investigators wrote in their report that after struggling to get in contact with the parties involved, the case was closed.

Almost eight months later, the mothers of the teens filed a lawsuit suing McAdams and his son, which alleges McAdams falsely imprisoned the teens, assaulted them, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

McAdams denied those claims in the lawsuit but admitted to pursuing the teens for about 15 minutes, raising his voice at them and even pointing his gun at them and ordering them to the ground.

We reached out to his attorney for comment but have not heard back.