A disturbance on May 21 resulted in two Somervell County residents being arrested by Somervell County Sheriff’s Office deputies facing separate misdemeanor counts — Glen Rose City Council member Chris Bryant, on a charge of reckless driving, and local business owner Shane Zakery Huckabee, charged with driving with an invalid license.
An information request was submitted to the Sheriff’s Office after deputies responded to a “disturbance in progress” in the 200 block of Brigitte Lane in Glen Rose at approximately 3:10 that afternoon. Chief Deputy Dwayne Griffin responded, stating that John Christopher Bryant, age 49, “called the Sheriff’s Office regarding people speeding through his neighborhood.”
Huckabee and his fiancé, Juana Perez, both responded to emails from the Glen Rose Reporter, stating that they had been driving in separate vehicles through that neighborhood when they realized that someone in another vehicle was trying to get them to stop.
Perez emailed that Bryant “got mad” when he saw Shane “slow roll through the stop sign” and then “pulled in front of Shane sideways stopping him.” She was asked if she could verify one comment heard in the video she shot, and responded, “Yes, Chris tried to run them off the road.”
A video of part of the confrontation after the vehicles stopped was posted on Facebook, and was emailed to the newspaper. Perez told the newspaper that Bryant “was saying in the video that he wasn’t going to get in trouble because he knows Buck Martin.”
Martin is the Glen Rose Chief of Police, but was not involved in the arrests.
“He claimed that we were speeding down that road, but that is far from the truth,” Huckabee stated in an email. “I was following right behind my fiancé who had my children with her, and we were maybe going 15-20 mph. I’m going to guess that he assumed I was maybe because of the sound of my loud aftermarket exhaust on my truck. When I accelerate it is loud, so he may have assumed I was accelerating fast. But I wasn’t.”
Huckabee, who said he did not know Bryant before the incident, added that he was told “they were taking Chris to jail for reckless driving, and impeding traffic.”
Huckabee wrote that both he and his fiancé were driving on a side street near the downtown square, and after “we both slow rolled through the last stop sign on that street” Bryant “sped up next to me pulling sideways in front of me stopping me. He got out of his car yelling, and cussing so we did as well.
“Then I got back into the truck (and) backed up and tried to get away. That’s when I turned left onto the square. As soon as I turned left Chris sped up again and cut me off again by heading into oncoming traffic and pulling sideways in front of me.
“We had some words again, and I got back into my truck and turned left at the blinking light and came down to meet up where my fiancé was. Chris kept saying he wasn’t going to get in trouble because he knows Buck Martin … We just waited there patiently until the cops came, and told our side of the story.”
An employee of Huckabee, Talyne Chaise Bitner, received a Class C misdemeanor ticket charging him with criminal mischief less than $100, but was not arrested. Perez said that ticket was given as a result of Bitner throwing his Sonic drink at Bryant’s car the second time Bryant “cut us off while trying to leave.”
The Glen Rose Reporter’s email to Bryant stated, in part:
“They claim that you ran them off the road, blocked them with your vehicle, and that it began because you saw them roll through a stop sign without stopping. They claim that they were not speeding. What was your justification for trying to pull them over instead of letting law enforcement handle it, if their claims are accurate?
Bryant’s email response to the newspaper about the incident stated:
“Just like several other streets in town, Grace Street has become a side street race track for impatient people wanting to take a short cut and bypass traffic. The biggest issue isn't rolling through stops signs, it's these people that blast through all 5 stop signs and never hit their brakes.
“I believe a lot of people have realized these streets go unpatrolled and there is no consequences for using these roads as a speedy cut through. We have retired folks that walk down Grace St, school children walking too (sic) and from home, children that play and tourist (sic) visiting from the downtown area. This is a busy street for foot traffic and eventually, someone is going to be injured or killed because of these speeders. This isn't just something I am aware of, every person that lives on Grace Street has issues with this problem. Another sad issue about this situation is that it isn't young drivers breaking these laws, it's adults with the appearance to be above the age of 30.
“As for the May 21st occurrence with the two vehicles speeding and blasting through the stop signs, I did do the proper thing and called the Sheriffs office immediately. Unfortunately the violators did give some inaccurate information to the deputy. As of now, the County Attorney will be investigating the incident and reviewing the Audio.
There are several discrepancies with this incident but I do hope we can come to the conclusion that it is not ok to speed down any street and endanger the lives of innocent people out walking.”
Bryant and Huckabee were released from the Somervell County Jail the following morning, after posting bond. The Sheriff’s Office news release states that Bryant’s was $1,500 and Huckabee’s was $500.
SOCIAL MEDIA STORM
After the newspaper posted an alert containing the Sheriff’s Office news release, word-for-word, about the arrests on Facebook, a flurry of responses from readers ensued.
The comments included one from Bryant, stating “Leave to the GR Reporter to report the wrong information,” and another he posted accusing Perez of being “a total liar” in her Facebook comments.
Some who posted indicated they still support Bryant, who is running for re-election to the City Council, including one who wrote that he backs him “100 percent.”
One comment states, “Sorry but Chris Bryant seems like a loose cannon (sic). Always in some kind of drama … and why would an almost 50 year old man act like this? Someone get a pin and pop this man’s ego.”
Another Facebook response says, in part, “repeatedly Chris thinks he’s police!,” and adds, “he has a hot head that will blow up someday.”
Janie Jones Carroll posted the following Facebook comment:
“Will the County Attorney be reviewing the charges and considering penalties in this situation? Based on Bryant’s long history of violent, uncontrolled behavior, the lack of due diligence on the part of the legal system would only endanger our community and visitors. Mr. Bryant may represent a portion of some but he continues to be a threat to others. Let’s hope that the legal system will protect and serve.”
The Glen Rose Reporter published an article in November 2013 reporting that Bryant had been found guilty by a six-person jury of a Class C misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.
The verdict, from a six-member jury in the courtroom of Somervell County Justice of the Peace Scott May, stemmed from a complaint filed by a UPS delivery driver, Ray Barron. It was the result of an incident involving Bryant, who claimed the driver ran two stops signs near his home.
The 2013 article stated, in part:
“After the two men exchanged words, Bryant followed the delivery van all the way to the Somervell County Law Enforcement Center, where Barron filed a complaint. The UPS man said Bryant used racial slurs and attempted to run his vehicle off the road. But Bryant called those allegations a ‘lie’.”
A check of Department of Public Safety criminal history records for John Christopher Bryant (date of birth 9/30/1970) shows the following cases:
— Arrested March 17, 1988, charged and convicted in Cleburne on a count of larceny (theft between $20 and $200). He received a sentence of six months of probation.
— Arrested May 13, 1991, on a Somervell County misdemeanor count of reckless conduct. The charge was dismissed on Feb. 19, 1992.
— Arrested May 18, 1997, and pleaded guilty in a Tarrant County criminal court in Fort Worth to a Class A misdemeanor charge of “resist arrest search or transportation.” He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to six months of probation.