Man high on bath salts threatens churchgoers with a hammer

Ronnie Lee Hardesty 
By: Eva Fett 

A man high on bath salts threatened churchgoers with a hammer, according to eye witnesses.

Ronnie Lee Hardesty stopped a Tennessee church service after telling everyone that he was high on bath salts, police said.

The 36-year-old was allegedly holding a hammer when he broke into the Ross Campground Church in Kingsport, on Sunday, and made his announcement, according to reports.

County Sheriff's Deputies said that Hardesty seemed high as he admitted to the congregation when he was found near the church grounds.

"The officers told Hardesty to come with them and he said: ‘I'm not going back to jail’ and refused to put the hammer on the floor," Deputy Jason Montgomery said.

"We drew our weapons and gave verbal commands to drop his weapon, at which time Hardesty started running towards an open field to cross a fence," he said.

Hardesty then allegedly swung the hammer at officers and started a fight. He tried to flee but was arrested after a short foot chase.

Deputies later found hammer marks on the door of the church. Hardesty was found to have a syringe hidden in his sock, and reportedly admitted to striking the church door with his weapon.

He was charged with aggravated assault against two officers, attempted theft, public drunkenness, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Hardesty has a long list of arrests in recent years, including charges of failure to appear in court and possession of drug paraphernalia.