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Child shot, killed in an early-morning drive-by shooting

Tragedy struck a Carter County neighborhood in the wee hours of Tuesday morning at approximately 5:46 a.m. as a shooting took the life of a nine-year-old female juvenile in what Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford labeled as a selective drive-by shooting at the residence located at 121 Blevins Road.

According to Sheriff Lunceford, the name of the victim cannot be released at this time due to family still being contacted.

There has been one person detained in the shooting according to Lunceford but has not been charged while there are two subjects that investigators with the Sheriff’s Department and TBI are actively searching for that are believed to be involved in the shooting who were present in the vehicle.

“Several shots were fired,” according to the Sheriff. “The investigation is active and ongoing. I have about 15 investigators assigned to this and we have been assisted by the TBI and have worked extremely hard.”

Lunceford said at this stage of the investigation that his department and the TBI need the public’s help.

“We desperately need the public’s help,” Lunceford stated. “Blevins Road is the first road as you go up Rio Vista Hill across from Grindstaff (Automotive).

“I know it was a bad time of the morning but if you were by there and saw something, heard something, if you have cameras or live anywhere in the area, we believe they come out and turned right on the Highway 91 and Johnson City/Elizabethton Highway and went up Rio Vista Hill.

“So if you have a camera anywhere, it doesn’t have to be right there – just anywhere in the area please look at it and give us a call. I don’t want to give a description of the vehicle either. We can’t give details because it hurts the investigation.”

Lunceford said that the female juvenile was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center by the Carter County EMS where she died a short time later from her injuries at the hospital.

The child was a permanent resident of the mobile home and was the only one who suffered injury as there were at least seven or eight others in the home at the time of the shooting.

The deceased child was sleeping on the couch next to the outside wall when the shooting took place.

Investigators remained on scene to continue their search for further evidence which was spread out according to Lunceford due to the shooting being of a drive-by nature.

The Sheriff couldn’t release the number of shots fired or the type of weapon used as all information is being guarded as to what is released so as not to impede the investigation.

Lunceford reassured the public that those responsible would be brought to justice.

“The people that do these things – they will talk,” said Lunceford. “Someone will see or hear something I promise you. When they do, call us and don’t go on the internet and repeat what you hear.

“Please if somebody saw something or heard something, call us and help us put this bunch of thugs in jail where they belong at 423-543-2211 or 423-542-1846 anytime, anywhere or anything that you see. All I ask is that you don’t get on a social media website and start repeating what you heard or what someone told you.”

The Sheriff said that it was important for direct communication on information that anyone might have because when things are said or repeated on social media it slows down and wastes the investigators’ time in tracking down leads.

Camera footage that were located nearby has already been taken into evidence and Lunceford said investigators would stay on scene as long as needed to collect all the evidence that is present.

“However long it takes,” said Lunceford. “You have to stay on scene, because once you give that scene up if you go back on the scene you have to obtain search warrants. So it’s an active scene and will stay there until we get done processing it.

“We canvased the area and talked to all the neighborhood while we were gathering the cameras.”

The Star will continue to follow this developing story.