MURRAY — Calloway County Sheriff Sam Steger said Monday that it was his understanding that a man who engaged law enforcement personnel in an all-night standoff over the weekend initiated talks after allegedly pointing a firearm as they attempted to arrest him.
Steger said Jesse Derrick Branham made a call to the Calloway County 911 dispatch center after a temporary but very tense faceoff with Calloway deputies and law personnel from other jurisdictions a little after midnight Saturday at the Murray inn & Art Gallery motel on South 12th Street. It was during that faceoff that Branham allegedly aimed a weapon, which Steger said was a .380-caliber handgun, at officers who were acting on a tip after searching most of Friday for Branham.
“Yeah, after we made contact with him at the door (when the man aimed his weapon), then he calls us and that’s how we started talking with him,” Steger said Monday. “So then the dispatcher patched me through to him and that’s how we started talking with him.”
That also led to a situation Steger said is somewhat unchartered territory. Though he has engaged in such situations before, Steger is not officially trained as a negotiator.
“Sometimes, you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. We needed to talk to him to be able to understand what was happening inside his room (where a woman and an infant child also were located). I was the one on the phone with him so I had to do what I could,” Steger said.
Within a short time, help was on the way in the form of Marshall County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tim Reynolds, who is a trained negotiator. In addition, Jody Cash, who served with Steger with Kentucky State Police Post 1 for several years and is now with the Marshall office, assisted with talking to the man.
Though there were a few tense moments between the initial contact with the man and the time he finally surrendered at about 7 a.m. Saturday, Steger said he felt confident that the situation would end peacefully, which it did.
“I always thought that he was not going to do anything to hurt his girlfriend and child. Still, there were a few times where he would come to the door with them, then go back inside, then come back out, then go back inside again, but, deep inside, I was always thinking this would end well,” he said.
The investigation started when United States marshals arrived Friday and told CCSO that it believed Branham was in the area. That led to an all-day surveillance of a residence in the eastern part of the county that eventually yielded no results. Eventually, information was received that Branham was at the Red Roof Inn on South 12th Street and, at that point, officers with the Murray Police Department joined the investigation.
At about 10 Friday night, officers made a forced entry of a room at the Red Roof, but found it was empty. More information was received soon afterward, leading to the Murray Inn. It was there, that CCSO and MPD were soon joined by Marshall units, including its Special Response Team, as well as Kentucky State Police and units with Calloway County Fire-Rescue, who performed traffic control.
“Give the credit to Nicky Knight for getting those folks over here,” Steger said of his chief deputy, who he said handled coordinating the contact for those other agencies to respond. An armored vehicle from the Paducah Police Department also was en route to the motel, but the standoff ended before it arrived. “That armored car has the ability to punch in a door without officers having to be involved, so we wanted to have it there in case we needed it. Thankfully, it never came to that.”
Steger said Branham was being sought on a federal warrant and, from what he had been told, the man had been wanted by marshals for as many as two years. Branham was wanted for a probation violation.
Branham is not being charged for anything related to the Murray incident, but he was taken to the Calloway County Jail after surrendering. Steger said he expected Branham to be transferred to Paducah on Monday, which will end the Calloway system’s involvement.
Individuals facing charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.