LONG CREEK – Her son off to school, Patty McHatton of Long Creek had gone over to her mother’s house to visit last Thursday morning when a neighbor rang up with alarming news.

“Don Porter called and said there are cops all over your place,” recalled McHatton’s mom, Wanda.

Patty hustled back to the Main Street house she rents, and found federal agents executing a search warrant. They had broken in the front door with a crowbar and were going through drawers and flipping mattresses in the quest for evidence of some sort.

Patty and Wanda said they were told the search was aimed at a former tenant of the house who grew marijuana and who moved away at least seven months ago. Since then, the owner remodeled the house and Wanda moved her family there in November.

She said officers apologized at the scene for the disruption and “were very nice,” but the incident still was traumatic. She said she was thankful that her 18-year-old son Jeffrey had gone off to school before the incident.

“I’m also glad they didn’t surprise me at night or something,” said Patty, is a Navy veteran who served in Iraq. “I would’ve thought it was a home invasion. I would have attacked them – and they would probably have shot and killed me.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Martin said the search warrant, which was signed by a federal magistrate, remained sealed on Monday. She said she couldn’t comment on residents’ speculations as to the reasons for the operation.

She confirmed that the warrant was for evidence, and said the officers obtained the evidence they were seeking, through photographing and videotaping on the premises.

The McHattons say they understand that the officers on the scene were following orders, but they were concerned about “the intel” on which the warrant was based. Wanda said anyone could have asked around town and learned that a mother and her son lived in the house, not the man who lived there sometime last year.

“If they did a stakeout, it had to have been several, several months ago,” said Wanda.

Patty is still readjusting after the raid, in part because she has OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. That condition that makes her want everything in the right order, and also makes her sensitive to “people touching my things,” she said.

“They didn’t tear things up,” she said. “They just went through everything. It feels like you’ve been burglarized.”

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