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Sting may have saved lives; gun buyer intended murders, say police

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Anger over being reported for alleged sexual abuse led a Shelbyville man to purchase a gun with the intention of killing two informants, police said Tuesday.

James Otis Mears, 54, of Locust Street was arrested after buying the gun from a Shelbyville police detective during a sting operation, Detective Sgt. Brian Crews said.

Mears was charged with two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder. He was also charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Crews said be believes Mears has previously been convicted of kidnapping. Mears is being held on $1,250,000 bond at Bedford County Jail.

Fateful call

"The investigation began Aug. 31 when Detective Carol Jean was alerted to a possible sex abuse case," Crews said. "She interviewed the suspect, Mears, but couldn't develop sufficient information for his arrest."

A safety plan was put into effect keeping Mears from having contact with the victim, Crews said.

"The following morning we received a call from Deputy Garcia Jordan," Crews said. "He was advised by a concerned citizen that Mears was attempting to purchase a firearm so he could kill the people involved in making the accusations. The informant believed if he didn't get the firearm from him he would from someone else."

Plans in place

The "concerned citizen" was interviewed at Shelbyville police headquarters, where a phone call was made to Mears.

"During the conversation it was clear he still intended to purchase a firearm," Crews said. "We were aware he is a convicted felon so we set out to conduct a sting operation where he would be purchasing a firearm from us at an undisclosed location in Shelbyville."

Purchase made

Mears went to the location and purchased a firearm from Detective Sam Jacobs, Crews said.

"Once he had the firearm into his possession he was arrested for being a felon in possession of a weapon," Crews said. "Additional investigation led to the belief that he possessed intent to purchase a firearm so he could kill the two informants. Therefore, he was also charged with two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder."

The Bedford County Sheriff's Department and 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force were involved in the investigation as well, Crews said.