WALHALLA, S.C. -- Police say a man was arrested Friday after he cranked up a chain saw and chased two Clemson University students on a disc golf course.
The students said they saw the man crouched over the chain saw on the course near Walhalla on Friday, when he suddenly turned on the chain saw and ran after them.
Walhalla police said 37-year-old Jerry Lee Roach already was facing an aggravated assault and battery charge from May when he tried to use a chain saw to attack an Oconee County sheriff's deputy.
An incident report said that during a bond hearing for the new charge, Roach became agitated. Police said Roach tried to physically intimidate the judge by standing over him and cursing, and then picking up a desk and shoving it toward him. An officer intervened and put Roach in a holding cell.
One of the Clemson students, who didn't want to be named, said she first saw Roach with the chain saw on a fairway.
"It sounded like he had it revved up enough to be cutting down trees which I was thinking was kind of strange," said the student. "The other person who was with me said we need to go right now and turned around and started running. Definitely my heart was racing. I was just scared because I didn't know if he was coming at us to hurt us, or if he was just running with the chainsaw or what. I wasn't going to stick around to find out."
The students called 911 and a neighbor said she heard the call go out on her police scanner.
"[Police] were coming down about a white male chasing somebody with a chainsaw and Jerry [Roach] just had come through my front door, so automatically I knew it was him," said neighbor Ciera Neal.
Neal said she's known Roach her whole life and says he's mentally challenged. She doesn't believe Roach would hurt anyone.
"You can imagine though not knowing [Roach] and being afraid," said News 4's Mandy Gaither.
"I understand that, but at the same time the police department knows who he is. They shouldn't have let him out in May, when he got arrested for the same thing," said Neal.
Jerry Lee Roach
The Clemson senior is just happy no one was hurt.
"I don't want to be the cause that [Roach] has to spend the rest of his life in jail, but if you're going to hurt someone, which could have possibly happened on Friday, he doesn't need to be on the streets anymore," said the student.
Roach is being held in the Oconee County jail on charges of first-degree assault and intimidation.
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