Appalachian Trail hikers faced a machete-wielding man dubbed ‘Sovereign,’ cops say

Photo of hiker believed to have threatened people on the Appalachian Trail in multiple counties.
Photo of hiker believed to have threatened people on the Appalachian Trail in multiple counties.

Hikers along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Tennessee say they were terrorized by a machete-wielding man who called himself “Sovereign,” according to Unicoi County (Tennessee) Sheriff Michael Hensley.

On Tuesday, deputies arrested a suspect, who was identified by TV station WLOS as 30-year-old James Jordan of Massachusetts.

Sheriff Hensley confirmed on a Facebook post that a suspect was found Tuesday evening in Madison County, North Carolina, and was currently in the Unicoi County jail. The suspect was in possession of a knife with a 20-inch long blade at the time of his arrest, Hensley added.

Unicoi County is on the North Carolina state line, about 40 miles north of Asheville.

The suspect is charged with criminal impersonation, aggravated assault and possession of drugs, Hensley said on Facebook. The impersonation charge is related to the suspect giving officers “a fake name and identification,” WCYB reported.

Investigators have not revealed why the suspect was allegedly threatening other hikers on the popular 2,190-mile trail, which winds through 14 states.

A dominant bull elk bugling in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hensley said on Facebook that department and the U.S. Forest Service had received several calls from hikers about a man calling himself “Sovereign,” who threatened them on the trail head at Devils Fork.

The man had a pit bull with him and was “armed with a knife and machete,” said Hensley on Facebook.

“This person... ran hikers out of shelters with a shovel,” said Hensley on Facebook. “Yesterday (Tuesday) he brandished a knife and machete and stated it was going to be a bad day for hikers.”

TV station WCYB reports Jordan “was under the influence of an intoxicant” when he was arrested, police say.

Elks cross a busy street in the town of Cherokee, NC, on Acquoni Road as they crossed the Oconaluftee River.

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