By Ernest Herndon
GLOSTER — A range war appears to have broken out at Brushy Creek Ranch after its Facebook page declared one of its owners to be a “former employee.”
On Tuesday, the ranch Facebook page posted, “Chris Kimball, former employee of Brushy Creek Ranch, convicted of assault, under investigation for livestock theft. All kids cowboy camps cancelled. No refunds. We are currently working on a shift in management.”
Kimball is appealing a simple assault conviction for allegedly attacking a church elder, and a charge of felony livestock theft has been bound over to the grand jury. Also, a group called Guardians of the Green Berets recently issued a lengthy post on its website saying Kimball had falsely claimed to be a Green Beret.
Kimball bought the 54-acre tourist ranch in 2015 with a partner, John Isaac Nygren of St. Louis, under the name Pinnacle Adventures LLC. They signed two deeds of trust with the ranch’s original owners, Matthew and Mary Holmes, according to Amite County Chancery Court records.
The Secretary of State website lists Kimball as Pinnacle’s registered agent and both of them as officers and directors, with Nygren manager and Kimball member.
Contacted by the Enterprise-Journal on Tuesday, Kimball said his “15 percent partner, John” seized control of the Facebook page.
“We had all been removed as administrators, apparently,” Kimball said. “I’m the owner. This is a witch hunt. This is ridiculous. I’m still there. I live there. There’s kids at the camp now.”
Kimball was meeting with his attorney, Alfred Felder of McComb, on Tuesday to determine what to do.
“I’m trying how to get control of the Facebook page,” Kimball said. “It (ranch) is still running, operating, doing fine.”
He said he hasn’t seen Nygren in two years.
“It’s bogus,” Kimball said of the claims. “It’s ridiculous. It’s every week.”
Attempts to contact Nygren were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Kimball called efforts to discredit him a “witch hunt.”
He cited testimony in his simple assault trial in which his alleged victim, Mark Ross, threatened to destroy him.
“Mark Ross testified that he will burn me to the ground, and he meant reputation,” Kimball said.
In the trial last month, Ross testified that after the fracas, “I pointed at him and I said in anger, ‘I will burn you down,’ ” Ross said. “Not the church, not the chapel, but him because that ministry was my life.”
Contacted Tuesday by the Enterprise-Journal, Ross, who has moved to Colorado, said, “I did tell him that, but since all this has come about there’s been over 100 people come forward. I had nothing to do with this (Facebook) posting.”
By “burn you down,” “what I meant was more or less expose him,” Ross said.
Ross said he has communicated with Nygren.
“John Nygren is seeking counsel right now with his attorney, and he’s speaking with the Amite County Sheriff’s Office,” Ross said.
Amite County Sheriff Tim Wroten confirmed that Nygren has spoken with his office but has not filed charges against Kimball.
The ranch at 5939 East Homochitto Road caters to horse riders and campers. It includes an Outlaw Ministries cowboy church where Kimball is pastor.
In the simple assault trial, Amite County Justice Court Judge Roger Arnold found Kimball and fellow church member Paul Punzo guilty of simple assault for attacking Ross at an April 22 meeting of church deacons and elders.
Kimball and Ross have appealed the conviction to Amite County Circuit Court. No trial date has been set.
Judge Arnold also bound Kimball over to the grand jury on a charge that he sold a quarterhorse belonging to Lorri Bullock of Osyka without her permission.
On June 29, the website guardiansofthegreenberet.com said Kimball had falsely claimed to have served in Special Forces in combat. As evidence, the site posted a video, numerous emails, website and Facebook posts and Kimball’s military records.
At the time, Kimball declined to respond to the accusation pending the outcome of the other legal cases.