Bells residents defend town, express shock at plot

Bells, TN (WMC-TV) - Residents of Bells, Tennessee were not happy Tuesday about a plot by one of the town's residents that put them in the national spotlight.

The mother of 20-year-old Daniel Cowart had no comment when asked if what happened disturbed her.

Cowart was a man who lived and worked in Bells, who made national headlines Monday when federal agents went public with a crazy and racist plot: They said Cowart hatched a plan to go on a killing spree, targeting an African-American school and presidential candidate Barack Obama.

It did not matter which segment of the population we spoke with - all residents of Bells were ready to defend their community.

"Don't put Bells down like that. Bells is a good place. We have a lot of people come through stop and visit Bells is like that," Bells native Vera House said.

All said Cowart's reported racist agenda and allegations of a killing spree surprised them - people like business owner Willie Carney.

"I haven't seen anything like that around here I haven't experienced anything like that. Therefore I can't say that. Like I said everybody here has treated me fine," Carney said.

The feds said the first call came from a home on the edge of the Brownsville city limits.

The homeowner's daughter knew Daniel Cowart, and investigators said was at the wheel when Cowart and his co-conspirator, Paul Schlesselman, attempted a home invasion robbery.

A dog ended up scaring the two men away from the home they targeted, so they never carried out the crime.

No one answered when Action News 5 knocked at the home of the 911 call, and the immediate neighbors didn't want to talk on camera.

Off camera, they called the plot "just plain stupid."

A couple living nearby said they couldn't believe someone connected to the plot was so close to home.

"I don't like to hear crimes like that just right here around the block from me.  So it's a scary thing to be in a neighborhood with violence like that," neighbor Kathy Singleton said.

"This is a nice community, a nice neighborhood.  So you wouldn't look for anything like this and this community being attached to a plot," neighbor Charles Singleton said.

Friends said the suspects told the daughter they would hurt her family if she didn't cooperate and that they threatened her with a gun. They said she was scared that the two men were capable of doing just about anything.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

Click here to e-mail Andrew Douglas.