Business owners and residents of an Atlanta neighborhood say they are being terrorized by a "machete man" who wields weapons in public and is accused of squatting in a local house amid an eviction moratorium.
"I pass him. I immediately get alarmed," Kirkwood salon owner Kelsey Womack told Fox 5 Atlanta of the "machete man."
"[I] tried to warn all of the clients and the staff that there was someone out there that didn’t look sane with a weapon," Womack added of her first encounter with the man, whose name is Brandon Barkley.
Police were called repeatedly over the summer when he first moved in next to a candy shop and the salon. But his actions did not constitute breaking the law, the outlet reported.
"He was threatening to hurt my clients if they parked in front of my house, which he did not rightfully own," Womack said.
Barkley claims he owns the home he lives in, but a local property management company said that is not true.
Invitation Homes told Fox 5 it is the rightful owner of the house and had tried to evict Barkley in July but the process was held up by a local eviction moratorium stemming from the pandemic.
Barkley hit back in a counterclaim that he is owed "$5,000" from a couple whom he reportedly bought the home from, but they "never brought" him the "lease." He claims he paid the couple $20,000 in cash for the property but did not provide Fox 5 with any paperwork to prove his ownership.
Invitation Homes also told the Atlanta Police Department it owns the home, but police concluded it was a "civil matter."
He was finally arrested in August after he pulled out a weapon some thought was a gun but was a Taser.
"He was shocking the Taser, however it works. The client who was outside said, ‘Do not come at me with that Taser,’" Womack recounted.
He was arrested on Aug. 19 and charged with aggravated assault.
Invitation Homes changed the lock on the front door of the residence soon after his arrest and put up a no trespassing notice. But Barkley soon returned, saying he was out on bail. He was able to gain access to the property with a key he had to the house's back door.
Barkley’s mother said her son does not suffer from any mental health issues, explaining he’s just "really into God." Barkley told the outlet that his knife-wielding is part of his journey to become an angel.
"I don’t want anything to happen to him, but he’s terrorizing my clients," Womack added.
The DeKalb County eviction moratorium recently expired, and Invitation Homes said it will now push harder to have him removed from the house.