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News New Year’s Eve altercation leads to arrest of Nantahala man

Alexander Justin BryantA Macon County man was arrested on New Year’s Eve after allegedly firing a shot at his girlfriend’s head.

After a domestic dispute erupted in the Nantahala community of Macon County, 22-year-old Alexander Bryant, of Topton, was arrested by the Macon County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday night for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. According to police reports, Bryant shot a rifle toward his girlfriend, Ashley Slaton, following an argument. The victim was able to escape the scene to contact authorities, and after a search in the Nantahala community for Bryant, he surrendered himself to law enforcement officers.

The incident report on file states that Slaton called 911 to report that Bryant was shooting at her from a window at his residence in Topton. Slaton told police she went to Bryant’s to retrieve her car that was sitting in the front parking lot when he opened fire on her. Slaton was able to hide behind a tree to contact authorities, but informed dispatch that Bryant was watching her from his window.

A passerby noticed Slaton in a panic and stopped to offer her help. “I was driving home from Murphy and had just passed the Macon County line sign,” said Amber Ball Thomas. “I was in between two other cars when we passed a woman hiding behind a tree waving her arms trying to get someone to stop and help her. I couldn't stop at that moment so I pulled into a church a few feet away to turn around. Once I stopped in the road to ask her if she needed any help, she replied ‘you need to go you have a baby in your car and he is shooting at me.’ Although I had my nephew in the car, there were plenty of people driving by her but no one else had stopped to help. After she said that, I drove up the road and pulled off to the side and called 911. The Andrews county dispatch answered and I told them about her problem. They then transferred me to Macon County dispatch. Macon County dispatch explained that they had already heard of this and thanked me for calling and hung up.”

Thomas then turned around and went back towards Slaton, stopped and rolled down her window to ask her what was going on. “She explained to me that her fiancé had been shooting at her from their apartment which was across the street at an abandoned gas station,” said Thomas. “I told her that I was not going to leave her. She was on the phone with Macon County dispatch and she was asking me if she could get in my car to get away from her fiancé. I told my fiveyear- old nephew to stay close to the floor as possible. I turned my car around so she would only have to run a short distance to jump in my car. Once I got my car into position I watched the apartment and her fiancé had opened the second floor window. Before she could even shut the door, I took off into the Murphy direction. I have never seen a more scared and upset lady in my life. She was completely scared for her life. She knew that he was trying to kill her.”

According to Thomas, while Slaton was in the car she was very upset and wanted to make sure Bryant was not following them. “I was on the phone with 911 Macon County dispatch until I lost service. The last thing dispatch said to me was there would be an officer waiting for us at the Andrews post office,” said Thomas. “We waited at the Andrews post office for about three to five minutes and none of the officers had showed up, so we decided to pull out and go on towards Murphy. As we drove down the road towards Murphy, we passed all the police so we decided to turn around and go back to the Andrews post office. When we got there the second time there was an officer waiting for us. While speaking to the lady officer several more officers pulled into the post office as well. I kept reassuring her [Slaton] that she was okay now and that she was safe and that everything was going to be okay.”

When Macon County deputies arrived on scene, a perimeter was set up and Highway 19 was closed by the Highway Patrol. Officers observed the residence for movement and made the decision to clear the top and bottom floors using five members of the Cherokee and Macon County Special Response Teams.

Bryant was not on the lower level of the residence and a rifle was found sitting near the window Slaton had identified. A Marlin Model 60 .22 w/scope was located with 78 rounds of ammunition. In addition to the firearm, police located a PSC Compound Bow with four arrows and broad head tips. Two spent shell casings were located just under the window.

Police reports state that the residence was unkempt with no electricity or water and a large quantity of 24-oz. beer cans along with car batteries that were found in the bedroom.

Deputies were able to make contact with Bryant by phone and were able to talk him out of hiding in the nearby woods. Bryant was taken to the Macon County Detention Center and was served a warrant for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. As of Tuesday afternoon, Bryant remained in custody at the Macon County Detention Center under a $75,000 bond.


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