Lou Crowe, a 14-year-old enrolled member of the Eastern Band, is a Cherokee Central School students who serves as the school’s mascot — a brave — at various sporting events. On Oct. 18, she was in Swain County serving as the mascot at a football game between Swain County and Cherokee high schools.
As the second quarter was about to begin, Lou was standing behind the cheerleaders doing her thing when she got close to a man standing nearby; he then threatened her without provocation, recounted her mother Missy Crowe.
“He said, ‘Don’t make me pull my Taser out,’ and she said, ‘Whoa,’” Missy said.
Her daughter at the time thought it might have been a Swain County deputy because the man seemed to be in a position of authority, Missy said.
“She didn’t know who the person was,” she said.
According to Missy, the cheerleaders took Lou to report the incident to the cheerleading coach. Cherokee Central School’s athletic director was also later informed about what the incident.
Since Lou thought a sheriff’s deputy might have been to blame, the Swain County Sheriff’s Office was informed and came to interview her at school. After an internal investigation, the sheriff concluded that none of his deputies threatened Lou, but they do believe her story.
“Please don’t think I am disputing this girl’s word. It just wasn’t a Swain County Sheriff’s deputy,” said Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran.
Cochran encouraged enrolled members to contact him if there is any problem with one of his deputies and lauded the office’s relationship with the tribe.
“We have a good working relationship with Cherokee PD and the tribe,” Cochran said. “We are partners together.”
Council representatives thanked Cochran for his work and for investigating the incident.
“I want to thank the sheriff for getting on this quickly,” said Tribal Council member B. Ensley.
While Missy is glad the sheriff took the time to address the matter, she is distressed that she was not informed or present when the deputies interviewed her daughter.
“I am kind of lost for words and upset,” Missy said.
Although Lou was not actually tased, the threat has had a lasting impact. Missy said her daughter doesn’t want to be the mascot anymore.
“I am here to tell you right now it was wrong for anyone to say anything to our team’s mascot,” Missy said, hoping the mysterious man who threatened her daughter reads about the incident.
Missy said she hopes the investigation continues until they find the perpetrator.
The tasing threat was the second incident to occur at a Swain County-Cherokee football game in the last two months. In late September, a Swain County high school student was suspended for 10 days after posting racist and vulgar comments on the Facebook page of a Cherokee junior varsity football player.