Police Chief Who Claimed His Truck Was Torched By Guns Rights Activists Pleads Guilty

Bald Knob (Arkansas) Police Chief Erek Balentine claimed in September that his truck was torched in response to the arrest of open carrier Richard Chambless.

We covered Chambless’s arrest, conviction, and his case being dismissed on appeal previously, as well as Balentine’s curious claims that his vehicle has been spray-painted with gun rights slogans and then burned.


As we noted at the time:

We don’t know, of course, whether or not the arsonist is actually an open carry supporter or if it is someone with a grudge against the chief who also saw an opportunity to attempt to make open carry supporters look bad.

All we can do at this juncture is point out the simple fact that open carry supporters have been marked by general civility and at their worst, civil disobedience. While there have been dozens of arrests of open carriers, they have almost universally been based upon legal technicalities.

I cannot recall incidents of open carry supporters being violent with law enforcement anywhere in the United States, and certainly not seeking them out for retaliation after the fact.

Like Mr. Chambless, we hope authorities will find the person responsible for this crime and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

Shortly after the arson attack Chief Balentine resigned under what we shall say are “interesting circumstances.”

We noted:

From the beginning, this vandalism and arson incident has seemed… odd.

Open carry supporters are sometimes acerbic, and sometimes get arrested in incidents of civil disobedience, but with one notable exception, they are typically monotonously law-abiding.

The investigation into the destruction of Balentine’s vehicle is on-going.

It’s going to be very interesting to see who is eventually arrested for the crime.


Former police chief Balentine has now accepted a plea deal in federal court on a stolen property charge. I called Jamie Williams, the Daily Citizen writer who covered the case for more details.


Williams confirmed that an investigation into the burning of Balentine’s truck led towards Balentine himself, and the discovery that Balentine took a firearm that had been donated to the police department for a charity auction, sold the gun, and pocketed the proceeds. It is this stolen property charge that Balentine is pleading guilty to in what appears to be a deal to avoid mail fraud charges for the arson of his truck.

Balentine will apparently avoid criminal charges for torching his truck, but nonetheless is the primary and indeed, apparently the only suspect in its vandalism and arson.

The gun rights community is overwhelmingly the most law-abiding segment of our society, bar none.

No Second Amendment supporters had anything to do with the arson of Erek Ballentine’s truck.

It now remains to be seen if Balentine is given probation as part of his plea deal as his attorney clearly hopes, or if this apparently crooked former cop goes to jail where he belongs.

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