Man apparently kills himself in siege on Lenoir City house

Authorities investigating death by shotgun blast

By Robert Wilson

LENOIR CITY - Authorities are investigating circumstances surrounding a man who apparently took his own life during a siege that began when an officer came to talk to him at his home about a previous incident. Police Chief Don White said that one of his officers, Jamie Whitt, was dispatched to the unidentified man's house shortly after 1 p.m. to ask the man some questions, and when she confronted him in the front yard he ran into the house. Whitt then reported hearing a gunshot.

White said other officers converging on the scene attempted without success to make contact with the man via landline and cell phone and a public address system. He said they made an attempt every five minutes for two hours, at which point they initiated a mutual aid agreement that brought the Blount County Sheriff's Office SWAT team and mobile command center, as well as officers from the Loudon County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The brick house is at the dead end of Gayle Street in a modest neighborhood. SWAT officers set up a perimeter around the house, and police radios crackled with reports of movement at the home's windows. White said Blount County's hostage phone was tossed through a window to try to make contact with the man, and a SWAT officer was cut on the arm by broken glass. The officer was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital for treatment. His injury was not believed serious.

At about 4:20 p.m., officers tossed a concussion grenade into the house and entered shortly after. White said the hostage phone was equipped with a camera that allowed officers to determine that the man was on the couch and had shot himself. Whitt had gone to the house to talk with the man about an incident that had happened during the weekend. White said it is unclear exactly when it was during the four-hour siege that the man took his own life but that he was already dead when the concussion grenade was tossed into the house.

Lenoir City man takes own life in standoff; Blount SWAT member injured

Daily Times

LENOIR CITY -- A Lenoir City man apparently took his own life today during a standoff with Blount County SWAT team members and other police at his Lenoir City home.

The man, whose identity was not immediately released, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, said Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire. He said officers using a camera device saw the man dead inside of the residence.

The incident began when Lenior City police officer Jamie Witt went to the house on Gayle Avenue at 1:15 p.m. to question a man regarding an incident that occurred Saturday, said Marian O’Briant, Blount County Sheriff’s office public information officer.

When the officer arrived, the suspect was standing outside in his yard. The suspect then went around to the back of the house. The officer heard a gunshot coming from within the residence, according to O’Briant.

The Loudon County Sheriff’s Office also responded. The Blount County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and crisis negotiators arrived, and the SWAT team put up a perimeter around the residence, O’Briant said.

For about two hours, police tried every five minutes to contact the suspect through a P.A. system, cell phone and land line, but they were unable to communicate with him.

At one point, the Blount SWAT team threw a concussion bomb in the house. Breaking glass from a window cut the arm of a SWAT team member Brian Smith. He was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital to be treated for his injury.

Frank Murdoch, a neighbor of the suspect, said he had been depressed because he had to give away his dog, his girlfriend broke up with him and he was having a had hard time finding work. Murdoch described him as a good neighbor who helped out and mowed other people’s yards.

Police said the suspect had lived in Lenoir City about two years and had no major criminal history.