Lenoir City officer in fatal shooting has unblemished record
Bob Fowler of the Knoxville News Sentinel
KINGSTON — The Lenoir City police officer who jumped into the bed of a pickup driven by a DUI suspect and fatally shot him as he drove off has an unblemished six-year history in law enforcement, personnel records show.
Tyrel Lorenz, 29, who stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs more than 250 pounds, shot Joshua William Grubb, 30, "multiple times," authorities said, as Grubb drove away from Bimbo's, a convenience store that sells fireworks in Lenoir City.
Lorenz had repeatedly yelled for Grubb to stop before firing his department-issued Glock model 22 .40-caliber handgun. That weapon is now in the custody of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is in charge of the probe.
Grubb's two brothers said Tuesday they've been asked by attorney Christopher Beavers of the Knoxville firm of Banks & Jones not to respond to media requests for comment. Beavers didn't return phone calls.
"We're just told not to answer any questions," said Matthew Grubb, a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., who was with their mother, Linda Grubb, at her Clinton residence on Tuesday.
Joshua Grubb was the youngest of Linda Grubb's three sons. The other brother, Daniel Grubb, lives in Knoxville and also would not comment.
Matthew Grubb said his brother's body was still in the custody of the TBI. An autopsy has been conducted, but the findings haven't been released.
Joshua Grubb, a Clinton resident, had an Anderson County arrest record for offenses ranging from a public intoxication charge in 2004 to a first-offense DUI in 2013. He had been found in violation of his probation on four occasions, records show.
Lorenz, who Lenoir City Police Chief Don White said recently moved to Oak Ridge, remains on paid administrative leave while the TBI investigation proceeds. White said Lorenz is "mentally doing well," and a team of counselors is coming in Thursday for a critical incident debriefing with him and other officers who responded.
Lorenz joined the Lenoir City Police Department last summer, the chief said, and has never been disciplined during his brief tenure.
"He performed at a very professional level," White said.
The chief said Lorenz also received what he called a "good review" from the Roane County Sheriff's Office, where Lorenz worked for five years, and was deemed eligible to be rehired there.
Lorenz, a Harriman High School graduate, was hired as a corrections officer for Roane County in March 2010. In 2012, he applied to be a road officer and stated on his application for basic police school that he'd never been convicted of any criminal offenses.
Lorenz became a deputy that year and subsequently passed a variety of training regimens. One letter of commendation, from Roane County Sheriff's Office Capt. Tim Hawn, is in his personnel file for helping out with civil process papers when that wasn't part of his normal duties.
"He was a good officer," Chief Deputy Tim Phillips said.
Lorenz resigned "effective immediately" in a memo to Sheriff Jack Stockton in mid-April last year to take the Lenoir City Police Department job.
White and 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson on Monday afternoon issued a statement about the episode that led to the shooting, which erupted just after 1 a.m. Sunday in Lenoir City.
Authorities had received an E-911 call from the Ruby Tuesday's restaurant across from Bimbo's on U.S. Highway 321 about three people who had just left the restaurant parking lot in a pickup.
Lorenz was questioning the three as they were getting gas at Bimbo's and had placed Grubb's companion, Brandon Lawrence Taylor, 31, of Clinton, in handcuffs when Grubb began driving off.
Lorenz "somehow ended up in the bed of the pickup," according to the statement, and the vehicle went into oncoming traffic down the wrong side of the four-lane, divided highway — crossing the I-75 overpass — before Lorenz shot Grubb and the pickup crashed into a utility pole, authorities said.
Lorenz immediately tried to render first aid to the mortally wounded Grubb, according to authorities.
Taylor, meanwhile, had wiggled out of his handcuffs, slipped away to two nearby hotels in a bid to use a phone and was eventually nabbed in the bathroom of the Days Inn, police said. He was charged with public intoxication and evading arrest.
Also arrested was another passenger in the pickup, Toni Ann Sutton, 40, of Heiskell, who was charged with drug paraphernalia possession.
If the results of the TBI investigation are complete by then, Johnson said the case will go before the Loudon County grand jury when it convenes again in mid-April.