James Phillips, 57, is accused of pulling a gun on a couple who were wearing MAGA hats in a Sam’s Club in Tennessee. Here’s what you need to know about Phillips and what happened.
1. Witnesses Said Phillips Pulled the Gun on the Couple at a Sam’s Club in Kentucky, with a Bullet Chambered
The incident happened at a Sam’s Club in Bowling Green, Kentucky, WTSP reported. James Phillips faces charges of first-degree wanton endangerment. He was carrying a .40 caliber Glock with a bullet chambered when he pointed the gun at the couple, WNKY reported. Witnesses said Phillips was wearing a veterans hat. Phillips could face one to five years in jail.
2. The Incident Happened After Phillips Made an Obscene Gesture & Got in an Argument with the Couple
According to the arrest citation, Phillips told police that he made an obscene gesture at the man and woman because they were wearing MAGA hats, WNKY reported. The man and Phillips got into an argument and the man made the same gesture back at Phillips. Witnesses said that was when Phillips pointed a gun at the man.
Terry Pierce was later identified as the man wearing the MAGA hat, along with his wife. He told WBKO: “I have as much right to wear that hat and support my country and my president as he has not to.”
3. Witnesses Said Phillips Told the Couple: ‘It’s a Good Day to Die’
Some witnesses told police that Phillips told the woman: “It’s a good day to die b….,” WNKY reported. Pierce, the man wearing the MAGA hat, told WBKO that Phillips pointed the gun in their faces, backed up, and told them: “It’s a good day for you to die.”
Pierce said he responded, “Then pull the trigger. Put the gun down and fight me or pull the trigger. Whichever one you want.”
James Phillips is from Cottontown, Tennessee. He had a concealed carry permit in Tennessee, which has reciprocity with Kentucky. In Kentucky, concealed carry and open carry are both permitted. In fact, Kentucky is considering “constitutional carry,” which would allow residents to conceal carry without a permit, ABC News reported. Current law requires an eight-hour training course for a concealed carry permit. Even if constitutional carry were passed, residents would still not be allowed to display a gun in a threatening manner unless they were endangered.
4. After the Gun Was Pulled on Him, the Man Wearing the MAGA Hat Followed Phillips Into the Sam’s Parking Lot, Where Phillips Was Waiting for His Mom
After Phillips told the couple it was a good day to die, he left and went into the Sam’s parking lot, Pierce told WBKO. Pierce then followed Phillips into the parking lot to confront him again. Phillips got into his car, but couldn’t leave because his mother was still in the store, Pierce said.
“He tried telling me I assaulted him and I said, ‘I never touched you,'” Pierce said. The police report said that surveillance video showed Pierce never touched Phillips. The surveillance video did not capture Phillips pulling the gun on Pierce inside the store, but did show him making the obscene gesture. He was not in view of the camera when he allegedly pulled the gun on the couple.
5. Phillips Is Charged with First-Degree Wanton Endangerment, & the Judge Entered a Not Guilty Plea
Phillips is charged with first-degree wanton endangerment. The Schafer Law Office shared that in Kentucky, first-degree wanton endangerment occurs when, under extreme indifference of human life, “he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.” In most states, it’s simply not legal to display a gun in a threatening manner unless you are fearing for your life. Exact laws vary from state to state. If you’re interested int he topic, you can read more at USACarry or AlienGear Holsters. Typically you can only pull a gun on someone if you are reasonably fearing for your life or are facing great injury, Alien Gear noted.
In court on Monday, the judge entered a not guilty plea for Phillips, who will receive a court-appointed attorney, WBKO reported. A preliminary hearing is set for Friday at 9 a.m.
Phillips is at the Warren County Regional Jail on a $10,000 bond, New York Daily News shared.