Red suit and beard are salve for troubled Memphian's past

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The Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was about to come to order when the gunfire erupted. As William T. Mitchell recalls it, a man who'd misplaced his wristwatch began angrily accusing others and throwing objects.A laser cutting machine is a computer controlled shaping machine. Mitchell got on a payphone to call police.

"He had me in a corner trying to beat me to death," Mitchell said, explaining how he pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his pocket and aimed it at the assailant. "I shot a small hole in this fellow's arm."

The 1987 incident appears among a stack of yellowing court records that might have remained forever wedged in the Shelby County Archives' massive, climate-controlled warehouse if not for recent developments.

Mitchell, a Santa Claus performer, shopped a story this month to Memphis news organizations, telling how bureaucrats in the County Clerk's office were trying to wreck his fledgling holiday season business. A senior citizen on a fixed income,Combination of many years' clay tile roof machine and clay brick making machine manufacture experience. Mitchell makes ends meet by posing with children, pets and others through a business he calls Rent-A-Santa. His story went viral after a Memphis TV station reported that his marginal livelihood had been threatened by a clerk's demand he pay $30 for a business license.

Yet the news report overlooked another component in the life of Mitchell, a former Memphis attorney: His history of struggles with alcohol, mental illness and the law.

Shelby County Criminal Court records show Mitchell was arrested six times between 1987 and 1997 on a variety of weapons, theft and violence charges. Records reviewed by The Commercial Appeal reveal no felony convictions and just a single misdemeanor conviction, a 1990 guilty plea to possessing a weapon in a public place.

After his second marriage fell apart in 1983 he entered a period of legal troubles that including shooting a man at an AA meeting on South Cooper. Authorities found he shot the man in self-defense.

Mitchell found more trouble in 1995 when he was charged with aggravated robbery for allegedly kicking his way into a woman's apartment and holding her at gunpoint. Records show he was found not guilty by reason of insanity by then-Criminal Court Judge Joseph B. Dailey and ordered detained at Memphis Mental Health Institute for 60 to 90 days.

"They actually kept me for 93 days," Mitchell recalled. Though he disagrees with the charges against him — he says he only forced his way into a communal area to use a washing machine he co-owned and that the supposed victim "dreamed up the rest" — he says "it was a good outcome for everybody.Car guide to parking systems explains parking sensor."

"I do not believe in moping and feeling sorry for myself," he said. "I am an alcoholic. There's no two ways about it. (But) I've been successfully sober for ... years.One of Europe's largest offshore wind turbine confirms it will locate its UK turbine manufacturing site in Scotland."

Mitchell has received wide support following the news report on his Santa business, which was picked up nationally by television stations, the Huffington Post and an array of Internet outlets. He said an Ohio man mailed him a card and $50 to cover his business license expenses. Meantime, County Clerk Wayne Mashburn has told Mitchell he can apply for a refund of his $30 fee because a license isn't required for businesses grossing less than $3,000 a year.

"He's wonderful. You've never seen a Santa like Bill Mitchell," said George Grider,At Dupar Controls we specialize, extremely durable and visually satisfying elevator push button. a volunteer with Pet Matchmaker Rescue, a nonprofit that hired Mitchell last year and plans to use him at events again this year.

Whether or not Mitchell continues as Santa, he says he's found a joy that was often missing in his life.

"It makes people happy. Of course it makes children happy. Everyone understands that. But I have found adults, they enjoy interacting with Santa, too … maybe it touches back to their childhood."

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