James Ellis Dees: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

james ellis dees

Leon County Sheriff James Ellis Dees is a former commercial pilot accused of writing racist and pro-Trump graffiti at an airport in Tallahassee, Florida.

James Ellis Dees is a former commercial pilot for Endeavor Air in Florida who was fired and arrested after police say he wrote pro-Trump and racist graffiti at the Tallahassee International Airport. The 53-year-old Dees was charged by the Tallahassee Police Department with nine misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief.

Dees admitted to scrawling graffiti that included pro-Trump phrases like “MAGA,” and racist slurs directed at blacks and Hispanics, according to police. Investigators also believe he wrote anti-Trump statements about impeachment. Dees was caught on video surveillance, police said. The graffiti appeared at the end of December 2018 and continued for nearly a year. Dees was approached by police before he was set to fly on January 7 and confronted about the vandalism and admitted to it, according to police. He was allowed to board the flight, but he later left the plane and told police he wasn’t in the right state to flight, police said.

Dees was arrested January 9. He could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney. Endeavor Air is a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. A spokesperson for the company said in a statement, “These actions in no way reflect the values of Endeavor Air, and this individual is no longer employed by the airline.”

Here’s what you need to know about James Dees:

1. James Dees Wrote ‘No N*gs,’ ‘No Sp*cs’ & ‘Send Them All Back’ in a Restroom & #MAGA on a Vehicle Parked in a Lot at the Airport During a Spree That Included 20 Incidents of Graffiti, Police Say

James Ellis Dees is believed to be responsible for more than 20 incidents of graffiti that began appearing at the Tallahassee airport in December 2018 and continued for nearly a year. The vandalism included both pro-Trump and anti-Trump messages, along with racist statements, according to police. The incidents occurred in a men’s restroom, along with in an elevator near the front entrance of the airport and, in at least one case, on a vehicle in a parking lot.

“Some of the graffiti was done using red or blue markers and erased easily, and some was done using a black permanent marker which took some effort on behalf of maintenance to remove,” police said in a probable cause statement included in Dees’ arrest report.

The first incident was discovered on December 23, 2018, in a men’s restroom stall and said, “#MAGA,” “NO N*GS” and “NO SP*CS.” In May 2019, the same graffiti was found in the stall again, police said.

In June 2019, police found graffiti in a parking lot and parking lot elevator, stating “#MAGA” and “=NON*GS.” In July 2019, graffiti was found in the restroom saying, “Send them ALL back,” and “#TRUMP4EVER,” and “#MAGA.”

In October 2019, the graffiti was found on a vehicle in a parking lot and said, “#MAGA,” and “=NO N*gs.” The last graffiti incident was on December 14, 2019, and was in a parking lot elevator. It stated, “#MAGA #NO N*GS #NO SP*CS #TRUMP4EVER.”

There was anti-Trump graffiti located, including a July 16 message stating, “Impeachment is Coming.”

Police Officer Keith Campbell said in his report that he installed a covert camera in the elevator adjacent to the parking lot in response to the graffiti. He reviewed footage from December 14 and said a pilot, later identified as Dees, entered the elevator and his “head can be seen bobbing up and down quickly as if writing and looking furtively over at the door. The subject continues the bobbing motion and lowers himself completely out of view. The subject appears to put something away, then steps away from the wall, looks at the wall and begins mouthing something as if reading.”

2. Dees Told Police He Had Been Having a ‘Really Rough Time’ & Was Dealing With ‘Anger Issues’

james dees

A section of the arrest report in the case against James Dees.

When questioned about the vandalism, James Dees told police investigators he had been having a “really rough time” and was dealing with “anger issues,” according to the arrest report.

Police said Dees admitted to writing the #MAGA graffiti three to four times, according to court documents. He was shown pictures of the graffiti and admitted to being responsible for nine of the instances of vandalism at the airport.

Police said in the arrest report, “After Dees confirmed that he had written the above graffiti, he was allowed to leave. He began to get on his flight, but then decided he was not in the ‘right state of mind’ to fly a plane. Dees left the terminal but then re-approached (Officer) Wright. Dees stated that he is a ‘responsible person’ and wanted to do whatever it took to put the incident behind him. Dees then left the airport to return home.”

3. James Dees Is a Resident of Perry, Florida, & Previously Lived in Minnesota, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas & Virginia & Is a Registered Democrat

James Dees lives in Perry, Florida, according to court records. He has lived in several places around the country, including in Minnesota, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Florida voting records show Dees registered to vote as a Democrat in 2013. A motive for the vandalism was not immediately clear and Dees did not tell police if he supported Trump.

4. Dees Also Has a Real Estate Broker & Sales License in Florida

Along with his pilot’s license and a flight instructor license, Dees also has worked in real estate, according to public records in Florida. Dees has real estate broker or sales license since 1999. It is not clear if he is actively selling real estate in Florida.

Dees appears to have deleted his social media profiles, including a Facebook page.

5. James Dees Was Released From the Leon County Jail After Posting Bond & He Faces Up to 60 Days in Jail & a $500 Fine for Each of the 9 Charges Against Him

James Dees was released from the Leon County Jail after posting bond on Friday, January 17, 2020. It is not clear if he has hired an attorney and Dees could not be reached for comment by Heavy.

Dees was charged with nine misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief. Each of the charges carries a potential sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. The damage caused by the vandalism has been estimated at $200, according to the arrest report.

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