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Officers believe illegal gun purchase intended for murder

Officers and agents from several different departments closed in on Charles Henry Skibbe of Georgia (inset) in the Walmart parking lot Monday, after he reportedly tried to buy a gun to kill his wife.

March 12, 2019 – Swift action by multiple police agencies Monday, March 11, may have prevented the murder of one or more people.

Charles Henry Skibbe, 56, of Catoosa County, Ga., was arrested in the parking lot of the Dunlap Walmart and charged with drug possession and attempting to illegally purchase a weapon. Officers believe Skibbe intended to use the weapon to murder his ex-wife and her male friend.

The arrest came out of a drug investigation of several weeks.

We had reason to believe that he had been here and did have acquaintances here in Dunlap, and had been supplying some people with methamphetamine,” Dunlap Police Chief Clint Huth said today. “That's what initiated our investigation. It started as a drug investigation, but when we found out he was wanting a gun we knew we had to act quickly on that.”

And act quickly they did, calling in help from the District Attorney's Office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Office (SCSO).

The fact that he was wanting a weapon first surfaced late Monday morning,” Chief Huth said.

An undercover agent arranged to meet Skibbe in the Walmart parking lot that same afternoon, to sell him a 40-caliber pistol.

What concerned me was how quick he wanted to do it,” Huth said. “He was ready to come to Dunlap that same day. We believe he really intended to hurt somebody with that gun.”

After communicating by cell phone, the undercover agent met with Skibbe at about 6:30 p.m. Monday on the pretense of selling him the gun, but when they began talking Skibbe reportedly pulled out a bag of meth and offered to swap drugs for the gun, instead of paying cash.

During the conversation, Skibbe again stated his intent to murder his ex-wife,” Huth said.

Once the deal was made, police, deputies, and agents closed in and placed Skibbe under arrest.

TBI and ATF agents searched Skibbe's home in Georgia with the assistance of the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office and found drug paraphernalia. They also contacted the man's ex-wife, who showed them threatening text messages that Skibbe had sent her recently.

Huth credited the quick cooperation of many different law enforcement agencies in making the arrest and possibly saving lives.

To get all these players together as quickly as we did – the D.A., ATF, TBI – and get them in town, worked out very good,” he said. “It's great to get that assistance from the ATF and TBI as quickly as we did.”

Skibbe was transported to the Sequatchie County Justice Center, where he is being held pending a bond hearing in General Sessions Court Wednesday, March 13.

Skibbe has three prior felonies, Huth said, an auto theft conviction in Florida and two felonies in Wisconsin, for second degree reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

He is currently charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of over 5 grams of methamphetamine.

Charges of a more serious nature regarding threats against his wife and her friend are likely to proceed out of the ongoing investigation, Chief Huth said.