Fort Lawn town councilman arrested

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Travis Jenkins/Landmark News Service

FORT LAWN – Fort Lawn Town Councilman James Scott Russell was arrested at his home Monday, Sept. 3, charged with breach of peace.

According to a Chester County Sheriff’s Office incident report, an officer with the Fort Lawn Police Department requested that a county deputy respond to a domestic incident in the town that night because it involved a local elected official.

A deputy arrived at Russell’s home and knocked on the door. According to the report, Russell answered the door, stated that everything was fine and that the deputy could leave. The deputy told Russell that someone had called for an officer and he could not leave until he could confirm everything was OK.

About that time, Russell’s wife, Laura Russell, came from the side of the house and admitted she had called police. She told the deputy she and Russell were arguing and she was trying to get some of her belongings together and leave.

The report says Russell then started yelling, “You’re not taking that (expletive) car, it’s my (expletive) car.”

The deputy asked Russell to lower his voice and stop cursing. The report said Russell then told the deputy he was a Fort Lawn town councilman and wanted one of “his officers.” The deputy told Russell the Fort Lawn department would not be responding.

When the deputy tried to talk to Laura Russell again, the report said James Russell started yelling and cursing at his wife again.

The report said James Russell wouldn’t calm down, so the deputy called for a second deputy.

At that point, James Russell told the deputy he had a gun in a back pocket. He took out the gun, a 38-caliber revolver, and gave it to the deputy.

The report said after the deputy unloaded the pistol and while he was in the process of securing it, James Russell told the officer, “If I get locked up, you’ll (expletive) regret it.”

Russell was again urged to calm down, but refused, so he was arrested for breach of peace and handcuffed.

Once her husband was in the back seat of the patrol car, the report said Laura Russell told deputies the couple had been arguing all day.

She said she decided to leave and starting putting some belongings in her car. The report said James Russell pulled his vehicle behind hers to keep her from leaving. 

She said Russell didn’t assault her in any way and she didn’t want him to go to jail, she just wanted to get her things and leave. She was given the gun that Russell had in his pocket.

James Russell was booked at the Chester County Detention Center.

James Russell told the Chester News & Reporter the reason he wouldn’t let his wife leave was because she had been drinking. 

He said he had called the FLPD earlier and alerted them to that fact. 

However, the report does not specifically mention that Laura Russell appeared intoxicated.

“She tried to get in the car,” he said. “Everything in that yard is in my name.”

Russell said there were “two sides to every story” and noted he never touched his wife, which is backed up by the incident report.