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Ronnie Lee Hardesty Was On Bath Salts When He Interrupted Church With Hammer In Tennessee: Cops

Ronnie Lee Hardesty

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 10/09/12 09:18 AM ET Updated: 10/09/12 11:54 AM ET

Ronnie Lee Hardesty is no pillar of salt, but he did interrupt a Tennessee church service by declaring he was high on bath salts, cops say.

The 36-year-old was allegedly holding a hammer when he burst into the Ross Campground Church in Kingsport on Sunday and made his announcement, according to Times News.

Hawkins County Sheriff's deputies said Hardesty appeared to be high -- as he allegedly admitted to the congregation -- when they found him near the church grounds.

"[Officers told] Mr. Hardesty to come to us, and he stated, 'I'm not going back to jail' and refused to put the hammer on the ground," Deputy Jason Montgomery told the paper. "[We] unholstered our weapons and gave verbal commands to drop his weapon, at which time Mr. Hardesty began to run toward an open field to cross a wire fence."

Hardesty then allegedly swung the hammer at officers and started a scuffle. He tried to flee, but was taken into custody after a short chase on foot, according to the Associated Press.

Deputies later found hammer marks on the church door. Hardesty was found to have a syringe hidden in his sock, and reportedly admitted to banging on the church door with his weapon.

He was charged with aggravated assault against the two officers, attempted burglary, public intoxication, resisting arrest, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Hardesty has a long lists of arrests over the past few years, including charges of failure to appear in court and possession of drug paraphernalia.