Crosslin's Dark Side Shown

  Crosslin's Dark Side Shown

Posted by FoM on September 07, 2001 at 09:11:45 PT
By Lou Mumford, Tribune Staff Writer  
Source: South Bend Tribune  

Exactly who was Grover T. "Tom'' Crosslin, the owner of the Rainbow Farm Campground who died Monday during a standoff near Vandalia? Was he the kind, gentle civil libertarian who bought Christmas presents for children he didn't even know? Or was he the man who hit a woman with a pipe and condoned illegal drug use on his property? If the 46-year-old Crosslin had a dark side, then Cass County Prosecutor Scott Teter detailed it Thursday.
At a news conference at the Edward Lowe Center for the Council on Aging, Teter painted a picture of a Crosslin who was on occasion violent with his efforts to decriminalize marijuana use being carried out in all the wrong ways."The law is clear. This was not about, and was never about, the decriminalization of marijuana,'' Teter said. "You can't ignore laws you don't agree with.''Teter stopped short of condemning either Crosslin or his Rainbow Farm Campground roommate, Rolland "Rollie" Rohm, a 28-year-old fatally shot by authorities Tuesday. And Teter acknowledged Crosslin's generosity within the community."I don't mean these are bad people. They made bad choices,'' Teter said.Bad choices The first of Crosslin's bad choices in Cass County occurred April 19, 1995, when Crosslin used a pipe to assault a woman at the former Joe's Tavern in Vandalia.Crosslin admitted to a lesser felony assault charge. He was ordered to pay $3,600 restitution to the woman, serving eight months in jail and three years probation.Two years later, authorities focused on the festivals Crosslin brought to Rainbow Farm. That focus came after complaints from nearby residents about problems at a Hemp Fest event staged Memorial Day weekend in 1997.Informed in March 1999 that his property could be forfeited should problems persist at subsequent festivals, Crosslin fired back.In a March 24, 1999, letter, Crosslin said he didn't grow, sell or distribute marijuana at Rainbow Farm. He said didn't allow weapons either."Our friends at the Michigan Militia have their ideas how we should handle your threats, but as I said, we are pursuing a peaceful change to the laws that are now threatening our communities (and my own family) more than ever. ...,'' Crosslin wrote."I have discussed this with my family and we are all prepared to die on this land before we allow it to be stolen from us."Crosslin, an individual rights activist who painted an Elkhart property he owned neon hues last year to publicly complain about municipal code enforcement, was one who could be "very" defiant, said Dori Leo, his Kalamazoo attorney.Defiance by the former truck driver and home remodeler brought police investigation onto his property at 59896 Pemberton Road.The Hemp Fest 1997 complaints led to undercover operations by the Michigan State Police-affiliated Southwest Enforcement Team at Rainbow Farm.Undercover officers found they were able to purchase a wide variety of illegal drugs -- marijuana, LSD, hashish, psilocybin mushrooms, methamphetamines and unprescribed prescription drugs.While neither Crosslin nor Rohm was ever observed personally selling the drugs, Crosslin was observed smoking marijuana April 21 at Rainbow Farm.That was also the day 17-year-old Konrad Joseph Hornack of Eau Claire died in a Berrien County traffic accident after attending Rainbow Farm's 420 Marijuana Celebration.Hornack's death seemingly verified concerns that officials from high schools as distant as Buchanan had regarding festival fliers turning up on their campuses. But instead of illegal drug use, it was a report from a confidential informant that sent authorities to the farm in May, armed with a search warrant sought by the Michigan attorney general for the Michigan Department of Treasury.The police informant had gotten a job at The Joint, a store at the campground. She reported she and other employees were paid in cash, with no reporting of their earnings.The May search revealed a marijuana-growing operation in the farmhouse basement as well as three loaded firearms. A later search resulted in the seizure of 301 marijuana plants and three loaded guns.Those discoveries led to the May 21 arrest of Crosslin and Rohm on illegal drug and firearms charges. The arrests led to the removal of Rohm's 13-year-old son, Robert.A temporary injunction issued May 9 by Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge stipulated that no more festivals be staged. But two such events were conducted at Rainbow Farm in July and August and plans were on for another Labor Day weekend, Teter and Cass County Sheriff Joseph Underwood said.The Labor Day festival plans were scrubbed, however, after Cass County authorities sought to rescind bonds of $150,000 for Crosslin and $25,000 for Rohm and jail them.Neither Crosslin or Rohm showed up for their Cass Circuit Court bond revocation hearing last Friday. But an hour before that, buildings were set ablaze and the standoff began at Rainbow Farm.It was punctuated that day by Crosslin's shooting at a WNDU-TV, Channel 16, helicopter flying in to check out the fires. With another shooting at aircraft on Saturday, the FBI entered the fray Sunday and brought federal charges against Crosslin on Monday.About 100 officers from Michigan State Police, the Cass County Sheriff's Department and the FBI surrounded the 34-acre campground by Sunday.That day, Crosslin's attorney, Leo, tried to get him and Rohm to surrender. But surrender never came.Crosslin and Rohm died in similar circumstances, each with a gun in his hand. An 18-year-old from rural Vandalia, Brandon Peoples, survived the siege with minor injuries suffered when Crosslin died.Crosslin's funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Walley-Mills-Zimmerman Funeral Home & Crematory in Elkhart. Arrangements for Rohm are still pending.Tribune staff writers Ashley Lowery, Christine Cox and Rick Martinez contributed to this report.Related Article:Gun Victim's Last Words on Police Tape By Linda Mullen, Tribune Staff Writer In his last breaths, Jimmie Russell prayed for forgiveness from God.Russell, 24, suffered three fatal gunshot wounds to the chest on July 3, by Elkhart police officer Tim Fetterer. Immediately afterwards, Russell moaned, "My God. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Help me. I'm dying. Help me. Help me. God forgive me. Forgive me, God. Forgive me."For the next several minutes, his heavy breathing was broken only by several gut-wrenching primal moans.The actual gunshots could not be heard on the tape. And this infuriated Russell's mother, Helen Russell. She believes that police were more interested in killing her son and covering their actions, than they were in helping her son.Russell, 24, had lived in Edwardsburg prior to his death.The tape recording from the microphone that Fetterer was wearing during the incident was played for the media Thursday by Elkhart Police Chief Pamela Westlake and Internal Affairs Supervisor Lt. Paul Converse.So that the media could understand Fetterer's actions, Westlake decided to play the tape that Fetterer recorded on that day, via a body microphone that was attached to a police recorder in his squad car. This tape recording is standard policy when an officer enters a building, she said.According to the tape recording, less than 10 seconds elapsed between the time that Fetterer and Patrolman Dan Colson entered room 220, and when Russell was shot."They went there to kill my son," Helen Russell said.The tape did not record the sounds of the gunshots but did capture Fetterer saying excitedly to Colson, "63, 63," which is police language for "gun."Converse said that at this point, Fetterer and Russell began wrestling together, and the antenna and recorder were pressed tightly between them, insulating the microphone.Converse also said that a tape recorder won't always pick up extremely loud and fast noises, such as a gunshot."Sure. And donkeys fly," Helen Russell said."It's a little too convenient the tape cut out while he was being shot," she said Thursday after hearing the tape for the first time.Still, Helen Russell said, in her son's dying moments, "I'm glad my son called out to God."In August, an Elkhart County grand jury found that Fetterer was justified in using self-defense. He was exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing in Russell's death at the Weston Plaza motel.Although cleared by the grand jury, the Elkhart Police Department held its own internal review of the shooting, and announced the results at the press conference on Thursday.Fetterer took off three weeks, but has since returned to his position on the police force.The tape recording, which lasted several minutes, began with Fetterer knocking on the motel room door.He identified himself as "police department" and continued to knock. Then Russell can be heard asking a series of questions like, "What's going on? What is your problem? What do you want?"Fetterer tells Russell that he can smell marijuana outside the door, but Russell then denies having any marijuana in the room.Fetterer tells him to open the door, or he'll use a key and open it himself. At this point, a female is heard inside, encouraging Russell to open the door, and she approaches the door to unlatch the chain lock.Simultaneously, Fetterer pushes open the door, with Colson following right behind him.With Russell still denying possession of marijuana, he jumps on the bed and Fetterer orders him to put his hands on his head. Then the two begin to wrestle, and Fetterer begins to yell, "63, 63."Both police officers said they then used pepper spray on Russell, as the wrestling continued.Fetterer and Russell tussled off of the bed, stumbled a couple of feet, then fell into the bathroom. Russell was shot three times in the chest and fell into the bathtub.On the tape, Fetterer then tells Colson that he thinks the gun, which he had seen moments earlier in Russell's hand, is still in the bathtub with Russell."I think it's under him," Fetterer says, but the gun had fallen behind the toilet.Fetterer is then recorded as saying to Colson, "I thought I seen it in his hand." He also said that he felt the nuzzle of Russell's gun in his side, prompting him to draw his own gun and fire.Colson tells Fetterer, "You're all right. You're all right. You did right."One of the officers then radios to the dispatcher, describing the wounds as, "three to the chest."The grand jury in Elkhart Circuit Court deliberated less than an hour before deciding not to cite Fetterer with any wrong-doing. He could have faced charges, ranging from murder to negligent homicide.Helen Russell said Thursday that Fetterer's actions were "nothing less than murder.""There are no laws governing these hot dog cops," she said. "They carry a license to kill, just like James Bond."Helen Russell is so convinced of Fetterer's wrongdoing that she organized a petition drive for his expulsion or resignation from the police force. She recently submitted the petition with 861 signatures to city's public safety board.Chief Westlake said Thursday, "It is unfortunate that Mr. Russell lost his life. I am sorry that his mother must now endure that pain. As a parent, I understand that there is no greater pain than the loss of a child."Helen Russell is hosting a public protest, called "A Community Unity March," on Sept. 15. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. at 1303 Benham Ave., continue through some Elkhart neighborhoods, and end at city hall, she said.Source: South Bend Tribune (IN)Author: Lou Mumford, Tribune Staff Writer Published: September 07, 2001Copyright: 2001 South Bend TribuneContact: vop sbtinfo.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Rainbow Farm Campground Tom Crosslin & Rolland Rohm Memorial's Stepfather Forgiving, but Not Forgetting Feelings on Rainbow Farm, Crosslin

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Comment #3 posted by freedom fighter on September 07, 2001 at 20:10:27 PT

I think M.L.K. once said
that it is american's duty to keep breaking the law that are bad..
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Comment #2 posted by mr.greengenes on September 07, 2001 at 19:17:00 PT

Agents dark side
 How about a report on the agents dark side. There were over 100 LEO's out there. Am I to believe that none of them had a dark side? Almost all cops have a dark side, that's why they became cops.
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Comment #1 posted by J.R. Bob Dobbs on September 07, 2001 at 10:11:32 PT

"You can't ignore laws you don't agree with.''
  Especially not when the government routinely uses them as an excuse to lie, cheat, steal, and kill. Then you MUST take action.
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