A Liberty County bailiff who reportedly was struggling with emotional issues attempted to drive his car into the Liberty County Justice Center around 10 a.m. Friday morning.
The gold Mercedes sedan instead hit a low brick wall that serves as both a planter and a safety barrier. No one was hurt.
“The driver was a bailiff who, to our understanding, was going through some personal, emotional issues,” Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Chief Keith Moran said. “We’re concerned about his well-being and mental health and also about the safety of all people in the courthouse.”
Neither Moran nor Sheriff Steve Sikes saw the incident, but another deputy witnessed the car coming up on the curb and alerted officials by radio.
“I understand there was a bit of reckless driving beforehand,” Moran added.
Because the driver is jointly employed by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and the Clerk of Courts, the case was handed over to the Hinesville Police Department for outside investigation, Moran said.
Hinesville police have charged James G. Frasier with two felonies and one misdemeanor in connection with the crime, Maj. Thomas Cribbs said.
Frasier faces one charge of criminal attempt to commit criminal damage to property, one charge of terroristic threats and acts and one charge of reckless conduct, Cribbs said.
Frasier also could face a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving, according to Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier.
Frasier immediately was taken into custody and was still being held as of Friday night. Cribbs said Frasier likely would have a bond hearing over the weekend.
Though they believe this is an isolated incident, the sheriff’s office temporarily will step up security at the justice center, and visitors should allot more time to enter the building, Moran said.
Authorities also will ensure that the man receives necessary medical attention.
“I want to see him get the help he needs — that’s the concern,” Sikes said.
“This is not the little lady’s foot slipped off the brake,” he added. “This was intentional.
“He was going fast enough that when he broke the curb, he bent the right wheel,” Sikes said, pointing to the vehicle, which sustained minor visible damage to its front end.
The building was designed with safety in mind, which is why it is elevated on Main Street and separated from the road by a maze of cement walkways and landscaping, Lt. James Caines said.
In this case, low brick walls that house shrubs and trees provided an effective barrier between the vehicle and the building, he added.
The sheriff’s office likely will re-evaluate some of its security measures.
“You re-evaluate when things happen,” Caines said, adding that the sheriff’s office will continue to keep safety a priority at the justice center.
“We’re going to do whatever’s necessary to make sure that stays first and foremost.”