The Knox County sheriff formally denounced a Knox County detective who delivered a sermon preaching that gay people should be executed.
20-year Knox County detective and Baptist pastor Grayson Fritts delivered a sermon earlier this month where he said gay people are worthy of death.
Sheriff Tom Spangler joined Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Knox County DA Charme Allen in condemning Fritts' comments, publicly addressing the county and commissioners Monday night at the Knox County Commission work session.
Spangler said he personally found the comments 'vile and hate-filled," saying Fritts had been removed from his duties to answer calls for service within hours of him seeing the video.
"Please, please do not allow the actions of one individual to cause dissension in our great county," Spangler said. "In closing, I want to say that nothing good will come from the continuation of this hateful rhetoric."
Following the speech, people attending the meeting stood up and applauded.
Here is Sheriff Spangler's speech in full:
“Mr. Chairman and commissioners, as y'all are aware, we have had an unfortunate incident that has created quite a bit of dissension in our county. I stand before you as sheriff of Knox County and as a concerned citizen. I want everyone to know that I, the sheriff, and I, Tom Spangler, do not agree or condone Mr. Fritts’ comments. I certainly do not condone anyone calling for the execution of a person or group of people for any reason. That is nothing more than vile and hate-filled speech. As a leader of the fine men and women who represent the Knox County Sheriff's Office, I want to let you to know that those comments are not reflective of our people. Our officers are here to protect and serve without discrimination or hesitation. Our men and women put their lives on the line every single day in order to make Knox County a safe place to live and work. They will continue to do so regardless. I want to be clear that when I learned of the video and watched it for myself, Detective Fritts was removed from his duties to answer calls for service within hours. I also want to reassure our citizens that they have nothing to fear from our officers at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. In fact, our men and women are saddened and have heavy hearts as well over these events. Please, please do not allow the actions of one individual to cause dissension in our great county. In closing, I want to say that nothing good will come from the continuation of this hateful rhetoric. I will continue to be the sheriff you elected. I will continue to protect and serve with a humble heart... putting the needs of my officers, support staff, and Knox County above my own. May God bless Knox County. Thank you.”
After the sermon came to light, Spangler announced last Wednesday that Fritts had applied for a voluntary workforce buyout weeks ago and was not on active duty. Pending the buyout, Fritts is scheduled to officially leave the department on July 19, 2019.