SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Police suspect country singer Billy Currington may have videotaped himself chasing a 70-year-old tour boat captain along a coastal Georgia creek and threatening to “finish him off” in a tirade filled with profanities, according to court documents filed Thursday.
The boat captain, Charles Harvey Ferrelle, and his two passengers told police Currington was holding a camera when he became outraged and made the threats April 15 after they passed him on the dock of a $3.5 million waterfront home near Tybee Island. Ferrelle told police that Currington later got into his own boat and chased them.
“They were in fear of this man and a possible attack against Mr. Ferrelle, and possibly everyone there, as his behavior was ‘out of control’ as described by all three persons,” Savannah-Chatham County Police Detective Alycia Rice wrote in an affidavit filed in Chatham County Superior Court.
Currington, 39, turned himself in Thursday afternoon at the county jail, where he was booked on charges of making terroristic threats and abuse of an elderly person. Currington was free Thursday night after posting $27,700 bond, Sheriff’s Cpl. Rhonda Bryant Elleby said. Each of the charges is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison.
Police got a warrant to search Currington’s home Tuesday and seized four digital video files, 27 digital photos and a memory card. The affidavit said police believed Currington might have recorded the confrontation.
Currington is a native of the Georgia coast. His hits include “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer,” ”That’s How Country Boys Roll” and “People Are Crazy.”
The singer’s attorney, Alex Zipperer, did not immediately return phone messages. In a court filing April 19, the attorney said Currington denied “each and every allegation” from Ferrelle.
Two days after the incident, the singer sent a message to more than 200,000 Twitter followers saying “Harrassing (sic) artists often at their home by boat should be illegal. thas all i know.”
Currington thanked fans Wednesday on Twitter for their support but said he couldn’t comment because of the ongoing investigation. Lori Christian, a spokeswoman for Universal Music Group in Nashville, declined to comment Thursday. Universal owns Currington’s record label.
Ferrelle, who conducts boat tours from Tybee Island east of Savannah, told police he was cruising past Currington’s home on Tybee Creek when his two passengers told Ferrelle someone on the property was yelling at them and “flipping a double bird,” the affidavit said.
Ferrelle told police he was floating with the current, far from the docks, but he throttled up and moved away when he saw the angry man, whom he later identified from a photograph as Currington.
Ferrelle told officers that when he passed by again on the return trip, Currington got in his own boat with a camera and followed him to the dock where Ferrelle keeps his tour boat.
“If I hadn’t gotten into my slip fast enough, I believe he would have run me over,” Ferrelle told police.
Ferrelle and his passengers told police Currington pulled up to the dock, but didn’t get out of his boat. They said he called Ferrelle foul names and said, “I am going to (expletive) you up you mother (expletive) old man,” according to the police affidavit. It says Currington told Ferrelle that he and his brother would “catch him in the river” and “finish him off.”
Ferrelle did not immediately return phone messages from The Associated Press. One of his passengers, Curt Reinelt, declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday.
A second charter boat captain, Elizabeth Johnson, later told police Currington made similar threats to her and a passenger last October when they were fishing not far from the singer’s home.
A separate police report filed soon after the incident indicates that those living at Currington’s home had problems with boats passing by too closely or too fast. A woman who said she was the caretaker of an elderly man at the same address called police to complain that a passing boat nearly knocked the man off the home’s dock and into the water. The police report said the woman was talking about the events that led to Currington chasing after the tour boat.
“Well, what is it we can do to keep people from coming up on our docks or swamping our docks?” the woman asked.
Currington told The Tennessean newspaper in 2007 that he sometimes struggled to control his anger as a result of suffering childhood abuse while growing up in Rincon, near Savannah. In the interview, conducted after he completed a 30-day trauma recovery program in Arizona, Currington said a small part of him remained “hurt, sad and furious.”
“When he comes out, he comes out very quickly and it goes away very quickly,” Currington told the newspaper. “And in those instances, that rage can destroy relationships, whether it’s with a girlfriend or a business partner or a fan. It doesn’t take long to screw it all up.”
Associated Press Writer Phillip Lucas in Atlanta contributed to this report.