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Double trouble, exploding trailer

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LATEST DRUG ROUNDUPS KEEP POLICE ON TOES

By Damon Lawrence

A month before he is scheduled to stand trial for voluntary manslaughter, Eric Glenn Gallaher’s legal problems have grown.

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The 33-year-old Harriman man was indicted on Feb. 18 for allegedly selling cocaine in a school zone. His twin brother, Derek Lynn Gallaher, is a co-defendant in the case.

Eric Gallaher turned himself in at the Roane County Jail Thursday morning.

Derek Gallaher’s arrest was more complicated. When the 9th Judicial District Drug Task Force went to arrest him at an apartment building on Hassler Mill Road Wednesday morning, he tried to avoid authorities by hiding in his attic. Police used tear gas to flush him out, but he had crawled to the attic of his neighbor’s apartment. Police found him in a closet in the neighbor’s apartment.

Derek Gallaher was booked into the Roane County Jail Wednesday morning, but out on a $5,000 bond by afternoon, according to jail records.

He also has a drug case still pending from last October.

Eric Gallaher was still in custody at press time Thursday on a $100,000 bond. Donice Butler, his attorney in the manslaughter case, said she was suspicious about the timing of the indictment. The manslaughter trial is scheduled to start on April 1.

“It’s unfortunate,” Butler said about the drug charges. “It doesn’t help his reputation in the community, but maybe that was the purpose of targeting him. I don’t know. I’m not saying that it was, but the timing is impeccable, let’s say that.”

The manslaughter case stems from an incident that occurred at the Grill & Pub in 2011.

According to court records, David Harvey and Eric Gallaher were involved in a minor fender bender in the parking lot.

Gallaher allegedly punched Harvey, who died.

“I know the facts regarding the manslaughter case inside and out and feel very good about his outcome,” Butler said.

The Gallaher brothers were two of the targets of Wednesday’s drug task force roundup. District Attorney General Russell Johnson said there was 36 total targets.

“They’re all people who were indicted by the Roane County grand jury on drug charges last week,” Johnson said. “They’ve got probably about half of them in custody at this point.”

Booby-trapped trailer

The operation was slowed because of an incident that happened Wednesday morning. Members of the task force went to a trailer on Green Meadows Road in Rockwood to arrest David Steven Neal on meth-related charges.

The trailer caught on fire.

“It’s still under investigation as to whether it was an active meth lab or meth lab components or what,” Johnson said.

Johnson said officers on the scene reported seeing a string or rope attached to the door knob of the trailer.

“That was attached to, I think they said maybe a bucket of deck sealer or something they thought could have been an accelerant,” Johnson said. “They backed off and then they saw fire inside.”

Johnson said talk about the trailer being booby trapped is just a theory at this point.

“To definitively say for sure that was the case, no I can’t,” he said. “They think it might have possibly been, but we’re still waiting on that arson investigator to finish his work.”

Neal, 33, was indicted for promoting the manufacture of meth and purchasing a meth precursor while on the state meth offender registry.

Police searched other trailers on the property, where they reported finding meth lab components. The labs were not active, but police said there was evidence of meth manufacturing in the past.

“We are working to see if these labs are connected to the lab by Mr. Neal,” Rockwood Police Chief Danny Wright said.

Photographer Kaitlin Keane contributed to this report.