Witnesses Say Hostage Situation in Newport was Blown Out of Proportion

JULY 31, 2006 -- 6:30 PM CDT

NEWPORT, AR -- Witnesses to a stand-off at the Pentecostal Church of God in Newport are now downplaying Sunday night's incident in which a preacher's wife pulled out a gun.

Tammy Estes was taken into police custody, but church members said they want to set the record straight on the so-called hostage situation.

"There was never a hostage situation," said church member Buddy Sherman.  "They're wonderful people.  We love them....they're our pastors," he said as tears rolled down his cheek.  "Nobody was ever intended to get hurt.  We stayed in there because we wanted to be in there with them."

Sherman and another church member, Brenda Wilson, were inside when Estes pulled out the gun.

"We volunteered to stay in there because we were there...not as hostages, but we helped talk to her," said Wilson.

The Newport Police Department received two 911 calls around 7 p.m. Sunday.

"When we initially responded to the call we were told that there was a woman in the church with a gun," said Detective Patrick Weatherford.  "Several people had ran out of the church, and there were still some people inside."

Estes spent one night in jail and was charged with aggravated assault.  She may sleep in her bed tonight if she posts bond.

Members of the church want to reiterate that they were not held hostage.

"They're precious people," said Wilson.  "She's a precious woman, and I guess we all have our breaking point.  She reached hers last night."