A man caught carrying numerous weapons including two submachine guns and 900 rounds of ammunition had lost custody of his children and written hostile letters to local judges, authorities said Wednesday.
Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said Scott Edmisten won't talk, so officials are still trying to determine why he had the weapons, as well as a mask and black fatigues, when he was pulled over for speeding before dawn Monday.
Graybeal said guns and ammunition are common in Tennessee, but that it was "odd" for all the guns and clips to be loaded, and for Edmisten to have 900 more rounds and survival gear. In addition, he said, when people have survival gear with them, they are usually going hunting, but that didn't seem to be the case. Graybeal said he has asked state and federal agencies to assist in the case since the automatic weapons aren't registered and lack serial numbers.
"Whatever he had planned for that morning, that little traffic stop that one of my guys made made all the difference in the world to someone, I believe," Graybeal said. "It's just one of those situations where nothing seemed right and we wanted to make sure that everyone was OK, especially since he'd been sending letters to the courts."
Edmisten, 43, has been jailed without bond on charges of possessing prohibited weapons, speeding, and felony evading arrest. An attorney listed in court records as representing Edmisten didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. A bond hearing was set for Oct. 11.
In addition to the guns in the car, authorities found another four rifles in Edmisten's home Tuesday while executing a search warrant. Graybeal said one had been altered to make it fully automatic. Investigators also found about $6,000 worth of ammunition that hadn't been opened.
Graybeal said he didn't know why Edmisten lost custody of his children, but Edmisten made it clear he did not like the Department of Children's Services or law enforcement.
Michael Knight, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has confirmed that the agency is investigating and said authorities "don't see a connection" to recent mass shootings.
Edmisten's arrest came a day after Stephen Paddock opened fire on a music festival from a high-rise hotel suite in Las Vegas, leaving 59 people dead and more than 500 injured. When police stormed his room, they discovered that Paddock had killed himself.