Susan Moore man charged following shooting incident

Richard Clarke, 40, of Ballard Road in Susan Moore, was charged with six felony counts yesterday following a shooting incident with family members and later with law enforcement Sunday night.

The incident occurred after Clarke allegedly mixed vodka and prescription medication, resulting in an altered mental state. He began firing a rifle at terrified family members, and when law enforcement officers arrived a short time later, a lengthy standoff lasting nearly five hours ensued.

Clarke is charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of shooting inside an occupied dwelling, one count of attempted murder, and one count of shooting at an aircraft.

He was rousted from the home after midnight, when tear gas canisters were fired into the house. He came outside with his hands up. He was then was arrested and taken to the Blount County Correctional Facility, according to Blount County Sheriff Loyd Arrington.

Clarke had earlier become angry with family members, retrieved a rifle from a shed, and entered the house firing sporadically at them, all four of whom managed to escape out the back door without injury, fleeing to a neighbor’s home. Two other family members escaped from the front of the house.

Blount County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene shortly after 7:30 p.m., along with law enforcement officers from Oneonta, Snead, and perhaps other departments, Arrington said.

“When one agency has a problem, we all have a problem,” said Arrington, noting that there were officers from several departments present, including the state Tactical Team and helicopter.

“We evacuated two nearby residences to protect people who might have been in harm’s way,” Arrington said, adding that Clarke was in the house by himself and firing only sporadically over the five-hourlong standoff, rather than keeping up a steady stream of rifle fire.

“He wasn’t even coming close with his shots, he was just shooting,” Arrington said, though he was pointing the gun toward the officers and also toward the helicopter overhead and discharging the weapon.“He was definitely under the influence of something,” Arrington said.

He remains in the Blount County jail under $680,000 bond.