No arrests following search of Village Inn room

Aug. 11—A search warrant at a former motel-turned-low-income housing complex set off a series of events that led to the complex being closed briefly.

However, no one has yet been charged in connection with the search warrant, which city police said related to an ongoing narcotics investigation.

Crossville Police Chief Jessie Brooks told the Chronicle evidence in the open investigation will be presented to a future session of the Cumberland County Grand Jury.

As owner Dr. Robert "Buck" Wood and property manager Steve Threet work to address issues with the facility, they question statements regarding how many times city police officers are called to the Village Inn.

"You hear comments like closing this down is going to cure the drug situation. It would be wonderful if it would, but that's an asinine statement. The drug dealing is still going to go on," Wood said.

The Cumberland County E-911 Dispatch Center told the Chronicle there had been 192 calls for Crossville Police at the Village Inn from Aug. 1, 2021, through Aug. 1, 2022.

Threet said, "How many were calls I made, catching homeless people in empty rooms or the breezeway or that I had told not to be there?"

Others could be due to serving warrants or accompanying probation and parole officers, he said. Threet added that he assists with notifying law enforcement when they are looking for individuals with active warrants for their arrest.

"One day I helped them catch four or five people," he said. "How many of those calls are for cooperation and not emergencies?"

Other calls could be related to medical calls, as multiple emergency personnel will often respond to calls for medical assistance. That could also account for 23 responses by the Crossville Fire Department, Threet said, adding the last time the fire department responded to a fire was in the winter of 2020.

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway told the Crossville City Council Aug. 2 his office had been gathering evidence to potentially bring a public nuisance lawsuit against the Village Inn. However, when the property was closed and then reopened the next day due to a procedural error, he said he decided to abandon that effort.

Threet and Wood also believe the search warrant and subsequent building inspection were a coordinated effort.

According to documents reviewed by the Crossville Chronicle, members of the Crossville Police Department met the morning of July 27 with members of the Crossville Fire Department, Cumberland County Emergency Services and Crossville Codes Enforcement.

Just after 7 a.m., officers made their way to the unit that was the subject of the search while other agencies staged at the corner of the property next to Crossville City Hall.

They met Threet at City Hall, and he provided a key to the unit that was the subject of the search.

When officers entered the rented unit, they called for the fire department to inspect the unit.

"Once the search warrant was executed, poor living conditions were observed and the City Fire Department along with City Codes Enforcement were able to take over and condemn the entire motel," Det. Koby Wilson wrote in an email to the instructor of a basic narcotics investigation class he attended in June 2022.

Standing water and exposed electrical wiring were found in the floor of the unit. The occupants were walking on scrap lumber to stay above the water.

Threet said the situation in the room was the result of tenants not following through on their offer to clean up the room after a broken water line was repaired the Sunday before the inspection.

"We go to clean up the water, the two boys that were living in there said, 'Get us a push broom, a squeegee and a shop vac and we'll take care of it,'" Threet said. "They had took scrap lumber and laid it down on the floor and were walking on it rather than letting me clean it or them clean it. They lied to me, and I did not know."

The condition of that first room led to an inspection of the neighboring units, which the occupants consented to, according to reports. The conditions in those rooms led to a wider inspection of all occupied units.

However, the findings of that inspection or the report by the building codes inspector were not provided to Wood, who said he was to be notified of problems so that he could make repairs.

The next day, July 28, the building was reopened. The Crossville City Council has launched an independent investigation into the closure.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at