BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — A Sullivan County deputy is in serious condition, and a suspect is dead, after a shootout with law enforcement Saturday.
Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said deputies arrived for a welfare check at the home of Jackie Pendergrass near 11W and TN-394 Saturday morning, when Pendergrass fired at least one shot. Pendergrass fired again after deputies attempted to communicate with him.
Deputy Steve Hinkle, a 27-year veteran of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, was shot at some point during the exchange.
“There were multiple officers,” Cassidy said at a press conference. “They were sort of pinned down at one point but thankfully we did get Officer Hinkle out of any more harms way, which takes a lot of effort when someone is actively shooting.”
Pendergrass, 44, was later found dead inside the home. It is not clear if he was killed during the exchange of gunfire with law enforcement, or if he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Pendergrass was relatively unknown to law enforcement and was alone inside the home at the time of the shooting.
“No prior criminal history. The call volume at that house was three. We had a couple burglaries in 2011 and a disturbance in 2013. He wasn’t well-known to the criminal justice system. He wasn’t very well-known to officers, and whatever led up to this, of course, is under further investigation,” Cassidy said.
It was a massive response by law enforcement, with local agencies from around the region coming together to help one of their own.
“Anybody that’s been in law enforcement knows about the camaraderie, the brotherhood,” Cassidy said. “There’s love for each and every officer that works there. We don’t only respond to violent confrontations like that, we respond as fast as we can get there to protect our officers. As you can tell, it’s a difficult situation that these officers are going through.”
Since the case included an officer-involved shooting, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is now the lead agency.