Rusk, TX (KETK) KETK has exclusively learned The City of Rusk Volunteer Fire Chief, Donald Lankford, has been charged with assault.
A police report indicates it it involved two teenagers. KETK tried to speak with Lankford to get his side of the story, but he won't speak with us. According to The City of Rusk Mayor, Angela Raiborn, Lankford is not on administrative leave. Raiborn said she would not comment on the matter until the process was completed.
According to police reports, the trouble started on New Year's Eve. Two teenagers told police a man tried to pull one of them out of a vehicle near Highway 69 and Highway 84.
Police said the man was Fire Chief, Donald Lankford. The teenagers said it happened after they threw a firecracker out their SUV window, near a fireworks stand Lankford owns.
"I was just...we had nothing else to do. We were headed home and were just trying to laugh," said Zachery Banks. He was in the passenger seat of the SUV and was the teenager who threw the firecracker.
Video from a local gas station showed Lankford later caught up with boys on the road. In the video, Lankford pulled his car in front of the SUV and approached it.
Wayne Foreman was the 16-year-old who was driving the intercepted vehicle. Foreman said Lankford opened the door to his SUV.
"He grabs my shoulder, and he's like get out," said Foreman. "He tugs at me and tries to pull at me, but I had my seat belt on...and I got scared and I pulled it into first and took off."
According to a police report, Lankford told cops he never got out of his car. The boys said Lankford sped after them following the altercation.
"My heart was beating really fast like I was about to die or something," said Foreman. "We were going like 100 miles per hour, and I was scared."
The boys said they cut across a gas station parking lot and headed down Highway 84. The boys said Lankford then followed them to Anderson County.
"To Slocum," said Foreman. "He chased us all the way out there and ran us off the road like two times."
The teenagers said they tried to call their parents, but their phones did not have service.
"It was scary," said Foreman. "I thought I was going to die."
KETK is continuing to reach out to Lankford for a statement. According to firefighters, he is scheduled to be back at work on Monday.