Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout organizers have announced the event will proceed Saturday without celebrity guest judge Joshua “Hoppy” Hopkins from the television show “Southern Justice.”
According to a report today (Wednesday) from the Jefferson Post, the former Ashe County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office Deputy is expected to be charged in connection with a shooting death last summer. The Post identified the victim as Dallas Shatley.
“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and we recognize and respect that,” said Hillsville Mayor Gregory Crowder. “In light of the proceedings, he will not participate in the Chili Shootout. We mean no disrespect to Mr. Hopkins.”
Greg Talley indicated organizers are in the process of trying to find an alternate celebrity judge to replace Hopkins.
Reportedly, Ashe County Sheriff James Williams and Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank indicated the charges were announced in open court today (Wednesday) in Jefferson. Frank is handling the investigation into the incident. Hopkins is expected to be charged with second degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury.
Frank said a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent was asked to contact Hopkins about the pending charges earlier in the week and was informed he did not return messages and was not present in court at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation could serve the warrant and bring Hopkins into custody. Williams said Frank brought evidence before a grand jury in Ashe County on Monday which returned it as a true bill of indictment.
Allegedly, Shatley, 62, was shot by Ashe County Sheriff’s Office deputies on July 8, 2015, after allegedly confronting the officers who were responding to a disturbance. The Ashe County Sheriff’s Office later indicated Deputies Christopher Roten, (who was cleared by the Grand Jury), Joshua Hopkins and Brandon Miller had been involved in the incident, but declined to say which of the deputies had allegedly been dragged prior to the shooting. The three deputies were placed on administrative leave, but were reinstated the week of Aug. 17, 2015.
Hopkins was featured in the National Geographic Channel reality series “Southern Justice,” a television series which followed Sullivan County, Tennessee and Ashe County, North Carolina Sheriff Deputies on routine calls in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As for the Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout, organizers are betting the teams signed up will have something to satisfy everyone’s spicy craving Saturday.
“We’ll have at least 13 teams registered so it’s going to be a good competition,” said Shootout Coordinator Ammie Shupe. She stressed the Shootout’s salsa division is open to all and not just International Chili Society professionals. The entry fee for this division is $10 and participants may prepare their salsa before the shootout and bring it on competition day. The cornbread contest is free and also an open competition.
Tasting wristbands will be sold (at $5 a person) starting at 2 p.m. with chili tasting tentatively scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The shootout will be held behind the Historic Carroll County Courthouse and is sanctioned by the International Chili Society (ICS). Local group “Stagecoach” will perform from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cast members from the play “Sidna Allen’s Dream,” (the third in a series of historical plays about the Carroll Courthouse Tragedy) will be on hand in costume and could even perform scenes from the production.
The contest includes four chili categories – homestyle, verde, salsa and traditional red (in the pro division). Other open chili categories for the public are People’s Choice and Judges’ Pick.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]