NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – County Commissioner Brian Berger said he has no plans to resign, despite calls for his resignation from board Chairman Woody White.
In a text message sent to WECT's Jon Evans, Berger wrote, "I've been waging that battle in the face of threats, intimidation, harassment, discrimination, 60 yr old acting like they're six, and I intend to keep my campaign promises...I used to joke id (sic) eat out of a garbage can with my dog b4 id (sic) become 'part of the club' and I meant it as a semi-joke then but its how seriously I take keeping those promises. Its (sic) past the time for a full state and or federal investigation into the discrimination and fraud leveled at me and mistreatment of others...most important of all the people of nhc. Those who have conducted themselves honorably have no reason to fear a full investigation."
White sent an email to Berger and other commissioners Friday morning asking him to seek help after posing a security risk to Governor Pat McCrory Thursday.
"Your actions have been erratic, delusional, and manic," White wrote in the email. He went on to say that no one wants to meet with Berger, "because of the risk [he] poses."
White said during a press conference Friday afternoon Berger didn't pose a physical threat to the governor, but his appearance was concerning.
The chairman said his "heart skipped a beat" when Berger jumped on the podium at a groundbreaking the governor was attending, because he knew his "appearance was frightening." White said Berger was shaking and stammering, his eyes were red and he had drool coming out of his mouth.
White said he was thankful nothing bad happened, but was anxious in that moment. The chairman then asked troopers at the groundbreaking to stand between Berger and the governor. The troopers told White about 20 minutes later they asked Berger to leave because he knocked on the window's of the governor's SUV.
"I don't think he posed a physical threat," said White. "But it gave me great concern."
McCrory's office said, "the governor was never harmed while in Wilmington."
While the issues with Berger stem back to a couple of years ago with the attempt of suicide and a domestic violence situation he had with a friend, White said his erratic behavior has escalated over the past 20 days.
He said Berger made a couple thousand copies of a rambling and incoherent statement and gave to people throughout the area. He then used county issued access at strange hours of the night. Additionally, his appearance Thursday at the groundbreaking was alarming.
White said the tipping point was an email request sent at 2:16 a.m. for a face-to-face meeting with the county attorney.
While the chairman said he doesn't know if Berger is necessarily a violent person, but he does know people with mental health issues will reach a point and act out.
The chairman is encouraging Berger to gather with his friends and family and seek treatment. White offered to help Berger with that, if asked, for free.
"It is time," White wrote in an email to Berger. "It was time for you to do so long ago, but these recent episodes have reached a critical mass."
White hopes Berger resigns from his position with the board so he can spend his time getting support from his family and friends and seek help.
While a decision has not yet been made, White said commissioners are considering filing a non-domestic violence restraining order against Berger to ensure the safety of our commissioners and citizens.
White emphasized the commissioners want to focus on the issues and serve the public, but are constantly dealing with this issue sitting in the back of their minds.
Precautionary steps have been taken to keep Berger out of the county manager and attorney's office. Additionally, there will be a presence from the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office at all public meetings to ensure safety.
Berger has had a history of run-ins with local law enforcement. Most recently he was charged with DWI at the end of 2012.
In June 2011, Berger was charged with assault on a female after an incident with an ex-girlfriend. She later got a protective order against him. He was charged with violating that order in 2012, but a jury found him not guilty of that in August.
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