Note: This story was last updated at 12:35 p.m.
A shooting was reported on Wakefield Road on Monday evening, the third shooting on the street in 48 hours. The shooting was followed a few hours later by a three-car crash at the intersection of West Outer Drive and North Illinois Avenue. Police couldn’t immediately say if the two events were connected.
There didn’t appear to be any injuries in the shooting, which occurred sometime between about 8:15 and 8:30 p.m. and left some 21 casings in the street. Residents in one Wakefield Road home said two bullets pierced a bedroom, but fortunately, no one was in it at the time.
Authorities said minor injuries were reported in the crash, which was reported at about 10:15 p.m. near the Ian’s Market gas station and convience store. One person reportedly fled from the crash, and one witness said the man darted into a wooded area behind the east corner of Ian’s Market, headed north toward Oliver Springs.
The Oak Ridge Police Department and Anderson County Sheriff’s Department swarmed the area. An ACSD canine unit responded to help search for the person of interest, but as of early Tuesday morning, officers hadn’t found the man.
The Monday night shooting followed a Sunday night arrest by the ORPD of a suspect in an earlier series of shootings in two neighborhoods, including in Scarboro and on Wakefield Road, that started Saturday night and continued through Sunday afternoon. In that case, Debriael Hall, 20, of Oak Ridge, was arrested after a high-speed chase that went through several counties and cities, ending in Newport after spike strips were deployed.
It’s not clear what connection there might be, if any, between the earlier shootings and the one on Monday night, or what the motive might be.
Burt Walker, who lives on Wakefield Road, said two bullets penetrated the wall of his home on Monday and another one was in the siding. He was in a work van in his driveway when the shooting started between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m.
It’s hard to say how many shots were fired, Walker said, but there were at least 10. He said his family was not the target of the shooting, and they’ve been caught in the crossfire.
If his son had been in his bedroom, Walker said, he might have been hit. His son plays video games in the area where the bullets traveled, Walker said. The family said one bullet hit the bottom of a mirror and went through a wall and the other went through a window and through a television.
“I hope they can catch the people,” Walker said. “We don’t need any innocent people getting hit.”
The other two shootings were reported on Wakefield Road in the same area as Monday night’s shooting, but at least one incident was directed at an apartment building, officials said, facing in a different direction than the shooting on Monday. The area of the shootings is near the intersection of Wakefield Road and Wadsworth Circle.
Residents said the first Wakefield Road shooting was reported at about 2 a.m. Sunday, the second was between 2-3 p.m. Sunday, and the last was Monday evening.
The City of Oak Ridge cited the second shooting in a press release announcing Hall’s arrest.
Residents said there weren’t as many rounds fired in those earlier shootings.
One witness was driving on West Outer Drive, west of North Illinois Avenue, when the crash occurred in the area that many locals refer to as “Hilltop.” He said he saw a silver Infiniti being trailed by an officer and trying to evade the police.
When the officer turned on his lights, the witness said, the Infiniti “flew around” a corner, ran a red light at North Illinois Avenue and West Outer Drive, and hit a beige four-door sedan. Then, it spun and hit a second red two-door car before the Infiniti rolled onto its side and came to a rest near a stoplight pole, the witness said.
Fire and smoke erupted.
“It looked like there had been a bunch of fireworks go off,” he said.
Joe Morris, who was headed north to Wartburg after work, said firefighters were able to put out the flames using a fire extinguisher. He said the man that he saw running darted off to the east side of Ian’s Market, which has a wooded area behind it.
There were no reports that the man had been captured as of early Tuesday morning.
One nearby resident said she heard the Monday night crash from six houses away.
Police weren’t able to offer a lot of details on Monday night and early Tuesday morning as the search for the “person of interest” continued. There were signs that the search had changed from a pursuit on foot using a canine officer and heavily armed men wearing bulletproof vests to another type of search. There was a heavy law enforcement presence visible in at least parts of the city at about midnight Monday, including both ORPD and ACSD units.
Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi thanked the other law enforcement agencies for their rapid response to a mutual-aid call on Monday. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department had a half-dozen deputies at the crash scene within an hour, Akagi said. Sheriff Paul White and Chief Deputy Mark Lucas both responded.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol responded to investigate the crash, and others who responded to help investigate, provide traffic control, secure a perimeter, and search for the person of interest were the Oliver Springs and Sunbright police departments and Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark and the crime force.
The northbound lanes of North Illinois Avenue were closed for several hours after the crash, and West Outer Drive just east of the intersection was also temporarily closed.
It was a busy night for emergency responders, including the ORPD and Oak Ridge Fire Department. Several ORPD detectives responded to the shooting and crash, including Kevin Craig, William Weaver, and David Stephens. There were many other officers at the crash scene as well, including Akagi, Captain Mike Uher, Captain Robin Smith, Sergeant Roy Heinz, and officers James Elkins and Garrett Robbins, among others.
Along with Craig, still other officers responded to the shooting, including Officer Sandy Bell and Sergeant Robert Pitts, and all three later responded to the crash.
See newer story—”Oak Ridge police seek suspect in Monday night shooting, crash”—here.
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