Business owners and residents in Atlanta's Kirkwood neighborhood are complaining that an individual performing daily knife-waving rituals is "terrorizing" customers and visitors, but the "machete man" reportedly can't be removed.
What are the details?
"I pass him [and] I immediately get alarmed," local salon owner Kelsey Womack told WAGA-TV this week before recounting the first time he showed up on the block.
"I came back to the business [and] tried to warn all of the clients and the staff that there was someone out there that didn't look sane with a weapon," she recalled.
The man, 33-year-old Brandon Barkley, has several knives and — based on video footage — what appears to be a sword. He regularly waves them in the front lawn of the home where he is staying and sometimes even in the street.
Yet police have said his behavior doesn't amount to a violation of the law, instead characterizing the situation as a "civil matter." WAGA reported that police have been called on the man repeatedly since he first showed up a few months ago, yet he still remains.
I-Team: Atlanta business owner says man with machete scaring her customers www.youtube.com
When reached by the news outlet this week, Barkley insisted that he means no harm to anyone and classified the performances as religious rituals. He added that he's simply "a passionate person who talks about God."
But according to Invitation Homes, the property management company that owns the home he's living in, Barkley is a squatter. The group has tried earnestly to evict him, but the process has reportedly been slowed by DeKalb County's COVID-19 eviction moratorium.
What happened in August?
Things reached a boiling point in August when Barkley was caught on surveillance video threatening passersby with what later was identified as a stun gun.
"He was shocking the Taser, however it works. The client who was outside said, 'Do not come at me with that Taser,'" Womack said.
Several believed the stun gun to be an actual firearm and called the police. Shortly after, Barkley was arrested on a felony charge of aggravated assault.
According to WAGA, Invitation Homes changed the front door lock and put up a no trespassing notice. But only days later Barkley, still holding a key to the backdoor, returned claiming to be out on bond.
"He assured us he owns the home, has the keys, and that his knife performances are part of his journey to becoming an angel," the news outlet reported.
Barkley and his mother claim that he paid $20,000 in cash to a couple to live at the home, but no documentation has been submitted as proof.
Barkley's mother added that her son does not have any mental health issues, he's just "really into God."