Tucker, GA — An argument over the removal of campaign signs in Tucker ended in the arrest of one person on Friday afternoon, Sept. 17, at the BP station near Hugh Howell Road and US-78.
Dekalb County Police confirmed the arrest of Giancarlos Tsitsilianos, who was charged with simple battery and criminal damage in the first degree.
Tsitsilianos was allegedly removing signs for Tucker mayoral candidate Robin Biro when Smoke Rise resident Correll Bilbrew asked him to stop. Bilbrew had placed the signs one day prior with permission from the gas station owner, Malik Waliyani.
Walyani is out of town and planning to turn over video surveillance from the gas station. He had granted permission for all candidates to put campaign signs on the property.
According to Bilbrew, he and Tsitsilianos got into an argument, during which Tsitsilianos knocked a phone out of Bilbrew’s hand and brandished a pistol. Bilbrew also accused Tsitsilianos of using a slur during the exchange.
A spokesperson for the police department said they were not able to prove a gun was involved in the incident, and also were not able to prove the suspect used a slur. The investigation is ongoing, the spokesperson said.
Bilbrew pressed charges before a DeKalb County judge on Friday evening, accusing Tsitsilianos of assault with a deadly weapon and theft of campaign property.
“I did not spend all this time in Iraq and Afghanistan to come home and not be able to practice Democracy the right way,” said Bilbrew.
Biro, who came to the scene after police arrived, called for cooler heads to prevail.
“I call on Mayor Frank Auman to join me in condemning violence, racism and racial epithets, as well as property theft,” Biro told the Tucker Observer. “These things are not in line with Tucker values. I am calling for the temperature of his campaign to mellow. I ask for my supporters to stay between the lines and keep getting our message out for a more inclusive and welcoming Tucker. We will not be intimidated, but we will also not resort to these shameful tactics. This is not the Tucker that we know and love, but we can and will be the best that we can be and love one another as neighbors, in spite of any political differences.”
Tsitsilianos called Auman from the scene, the mayor confirmed. The mayor said he was unsure what to make of the incident and said his campaign had permission to put signs at the gas station.
“I’m trying to understand it myself,” Auman said. “We have explicit permission from the owner to have our signs there, but apparently this is about Biro’s signs.”
Auman said he didn’t know much about the incident.
“A person who knows me from Smoke Rise … called me while the police were on the scene asking what he should do, and I told him the property owner needed to resolve it, but I understand he’s out of town,” Auman said. “That’s about all I know.”
Tucker Observer has requested a copy of the police report and any other documents related to this incident.
Tsitsilianos was in jail Friday evening, according to court records.
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