Tryon artist shocked when police pulled guns during alarm check

Published 1:53 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

A Tryon resident says she was shocked when two Tryon police officers came into the studio where she was working and pulled guns on her while responding to an alarm next door.

Sam Lovelace says while doing artwork in a building owned by the Tryon Fine Arts Center, she was more than startled when two officers &dquo;busted&dquo; open a door and pulled guns on her a few months ago. She says she feels the treatment was excessive for Tryon. According to Lovelace, nothing has been done about the incident yet, and she says she feels the officers deserve reprimand or training at the least.

Lovelace says while she was working on a painting in a back room of the building, two officers burst in the room and pulled guns on her. She says they yelled questions such as &dquo;Are you alone?&dquo; and &dquo;Is that truck outside yours?&dquo; while their guns were still drawn. She says the building she was in didn&squo;t have an alarm and she questions the department&squo;s policy.

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Tryon Police Chief Jeff Arrowood says the incident is unfortunate but the officers acted according to procedure. He says an alarm went off at the Tryon Fine Arts Center and officers were unaware at the time that the house next door was not on the same burglar system. The house is on the same fire alarm system, but not the burglary system.

&dquo;It&squo;s unfortunate it happened under those circumstances, but we do take alarm calls seriously and we will continue to take alarm calls seriously,&dquo; Arrowood said.

Arrowood says the officers cleared the fine arts center building and because they assumed the house was on the same system, they checked the house. They found the door open and went in to ensure that no one had unlawfully entered that building.

The incident occurred on Nov. 28 around 12:30 p.m. Lovelace says she has waited this long to speak publicly about the incident because she didn&squo;t want to embarrass the town. She says she loves Tryon but also fears such an incident could happen to someone else and says policies should be changed.

Things like this may happen on TV, she says, &dquo;but not in Tryon.&dquo;

Lovelace says she understands that alarms should be taken seriously, but this was during the day and if officers had looked in any window, they would have seen her painting alone.

She also says if nothing else, &dquo;people need to know that somebody may bust down your door and pull guns on you.&dquo;