A Bethlehem man has been charged with impersonating an officer after an incident this week at a Lake Hickory access point, said Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman.
On the night of Tuesday, December 29th, 2020, at approximately 9:25 p.m. Sheriff deputies responded to the area of the Wittenburg Wildlife Access, off of Shiloh Church Road in the Bethlehem Community, to investigate a complaint that an individual was approached in the parking lot of the access area by a person who presented a badge and claimed to be a Sheriff’s Deputy with the Sheriff’s Office.
Upon arrival, officers spoke with two individuals who stated that they were seated in a vehicle when a white male, on foot, approached the passenger side of their car with a flashlight, asking what they were doing parked there at the access area. The subject showed a badge, stated he worked for the Sheriff’s Office, and stated that there had been break-ins in the area. He stated that he was part of a stake out operation with others watching the area from the woods.
The man was wearing dark colored clothing with a diver patch on the jacket and was believed to be driving a beige Ford truck with a camper shell. The reporting person believed that the individual was impersonating an officer and requested to see his law enforcement identification.
A verbal altercation began between the subject and the reporting party, who then left and contacted the Alexander Co. Sheriff’s Office Communications to ask if there were, in fact, officers working an operation in the area of Wildlife Access. It was determined that no such operation was going on and a deputy responded to the scene to meet with the caller.
The suspect had left the area prior to the officers arrival.
Further investigation identified the suspect as Timothy Bryan Stafford, white male, age 38 of Bethlehem. The investigation also revealed that Stafford was not in fact a sworn law enforcement officer.
Stafford was arrested and charged with 2 counts of Impersonating a Law Enforcement Officer and 2 counts of 2nd Degree Kidnapping (due to the fact that the individuals in the vehicle did not feel they were free to leave during the encounter).
He was confined in the Alexander Co. Detention Center under a $25,000.00 bond with a first Court appearance planned January 4, 2021.
The investigation is continuing, said Sheriff Bowman.