South Carolina officials said Monday that an Atlanta woman who threatened S.C. Congressman Trey Gowdy was in no way connected to him.
Police said on Sunday night that Gowdy was parked outside First Baptist Church Spartanburg, when a woman pointed a gun at him in a threatening way.
Police have arrested Gloria Brackett, 52, of Brookwood Valley Circle, and have charged her with unlawful carrying of a pistol and pointing and presenting a firearm, but Fisher said other federal agencies like the Federaul Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Capitol Police are also investigating the incident, so more charges are possible.
Spartanburg Public Safety Director Tony Fisher said that Brackett approached Gowdy's vehicle Sunday and tapped on his window as he was waiting outside the First Baptist Church in Spartanburg to pick up a family member. Gowdy told police that she then told him to quit following her. When Gowdy tried to explain to her why he was at the church, Brackett allegedly pointed a gun, later identified as a CZ Model 70, 32 caliber semi-automatic pistol, at the congressman, who immediately threw his car into reverse. The suspect then reportedly tried to follow Gowdy on foot through the parking lot.
At that time, Fisher said Gowdy left the church and drove four blocks to the Public Safety Office, where he was able to provide police with a description of the suspect. Police began to search the area and found Brackett with a semi-automatic pistol with four bullets in the clip, as well as a box of bullets in her possession.
Fisher said that after extensive interviews with Brackett, they do not believe the incident was politically motivated in any way. He added that though they haven't determined whether or not Brackett has any mental disturbance that may have contributed to the confrontation, he believes such assessments are sure to be made in the coming days. He later added that Brackett had been cooperative with investigators, but that they still don't know why she perceived Gowdy as a threat.
"For some reason, she thought he was a threat or following her," Fisher said.
"(There is) no motive to our knowledge," he added.
Fisher said that Brackett is a native of Cowpens and had been visiting family members and had been dropped off at the bus station to return to her home in Atlanta. She'd been in the Upstate for roughly a week. Fisher said Brackett left the bus station and was wandering near the church at the time of the incident. Witnesses who spoke with police said they saw her around the church at the time of the confrontation, but did not see the exchange itself.
Fisher said Brackett is no stranger to the law, having had previous offenses with other law enforcement agencies to include: Atlanta Police, Fulton County, Jackson County and Gwinnett County. Fulton County jail records show an arrest on a stalking charge.
Fisher said there is no reason to believe that Brackett had any previous connection with Gowdy or that the two knew each other prior to this incident. Police say the weapon used in the confrontation, which belonged to Brackett's family in Cowpens, came back clear after a check of the firearm.
Fisher said they are working with the Spartanburg County Solicitor's Office and with federal law enforcement officials to determine if the incident meets the requirement for federal prosecution.
"Someone with a weapon and ammunition is clearly a danger to the community," Fisher said.