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Fired Texas A&M official brandishes knife, says 'Bring it on'

September 23, 2011 |  5:16 pm

Kimbrough Jay Kimbrough, former deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, pulled out a pocket knife and challenged university officials to “bring it on” after being fired this week.

Kimbrough “brandished a knife in a nonthreatening manner,” according to a university police report obtained by The Times, and refused to hand over his keys and pass card, telling two lawyers for the university that “if anyone is man enough to take them, bring it on.”

As Kimbrough, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, was escorted out of the building by campus police, he recited a quote from General Douglas MacArthur: “I shall return.”

Kimbrough, 64, later told The San Antonio Express-News that he meant no harm.

“I regret saying that,” he told the Express-News, explaining that he was upset because the termination came on his birthday and “out of the cold-turkey blue sky, no heads-up of any type or kind.”

Kimbrough said he usually takes out the knife, a 3 1/2-inch Buck knife used by a soldier in Afghanistan, to make a point. He told the Express-News he did not open it during Wednesday’s confrontation with two lawyers representing the university, both of whom later gave statements to police.

Kimbrough, who was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in the Marine Corps, has served as both a county attorney and a judge.

He worked for Gov. Rick Perry, an A&M graduate, at various points -- as the governor’s chief of staff, director of homeland security, and chief criminal justice advisor -- and was known as Perry's problem-solver, the Texas Tribune noted.

Not only had he been a consultant overhauling the state's Department of Transportation, Perry also had sent him to fix the troubled Texas Youth Commission and Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Kimbrough was named interim chancellor of the system in June.

In August, the university's board chose a full-time replacement, Democrat John Sharp, who has served in both houses of the Texas legislature, as Texas Railroad Commissioner and as Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Late Thursday, Sharp sent a message to employees explaining the firing.

“I have decided that the position of Deputy Chancellor is not necessary to meet the needs of the Office of the Chancellor and the Texas A&M University System,” the statement said. “I wish to thank Jay Kimbrough for his service in that role during my initial days as chancellor. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Sharp did not return calls Friday. Jason Cook, a spokesman for the university, declined to comment, saying the matter was a personnel issue.

Kimbrough had said he was not pursuing the chancellor position.

Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, told The Times that Perry was not aware of Kimbrough's departure until after the fact.

“Jay Kimbrough is a decorated war veteran who has given his life to public service. The governor has the utmost respect for and confidence in both Jay and John Sharp. This is a personnel matter with the A&M system,” she said.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske at Texas A&M in College Station

Photo: Jay Kimbrough responds to a question during a meeting of the Texas Senate in the capital in 2007. Kimbrough, a longtime advisor to Gov. Rick Perry says he was joking when he pulled out a pocket knife while being told he was fired as deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M University System Wednesday. Credit: Harry Cabluck/Associated Press.

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