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KPD: Driver tries to hit officer with stolen vehicle

Rain Smith • Updated Feb 7, 2018 at 7:18 PM

KINGSPORT — A motorist dragging a large bush on Orebank Road triggered a pursuit on Monday, according to police, and in an attempt to elude arrest, then attempted to hit an officer standing in the street.

Authorities later learned the vehicle had been stolen from a city home, where the owner had left it running at the curb to warm up. As of Wednesday afternoon, the thief, who also faces numerous charges of assault and reckless driving, had not been located.

The SUV pulling a ‘tree’

The incidents began shortly before noon when an officer observed a black 1998 Chevrolet Blazer traveling on Orebank Road with “a large bush or tree lodged under the vehicle.” Kingsport Police Department records say both he and a nearby officer attempted to conduct a stop, but due to traffic patterns and having to turn around, could not catch up with the vehicle.

Soon police discovered a large, mangled evergreen bush in front of a home in the 4500 block. As an officer investigated that scene (determining that the suspect vehicle was responsible), he heard the Blazer approaching. When he stepped into the road and waved for the driver to stop, the suspect allegedly accelerated to “an extremely high rate of speed.” The driver then reportedly swerved at the officer, forcing him to run out of the way to avoid being hit and placing him “in immediate fear of death or serious injury.” 

Pursuit, part two

A second police pursuit was initiated and went onto Memorial Boulevard. Due to the suspect recklessly driving into oncoming lanes to weave through traffic, the officer turned off his cruiser’s emergency equipment and dropped back. When the SUV turned onto Warpath Lane, the officer lost visual contact. However, a couple hours later, dispatch was alerted to a suspicious vehicle in a Lynn Garden driveway.

A ‘cryptic’ talk with dispatch

For the past week, Nathaniel Trott of Signature Properties has been remodeling a rental home on Virginia Street. When his work was done on Monday and he attempted to leave, he found he was blocked in by an unfamiliar black Blazer.

He called the non-emergency number to report and describe the vehicle, then waited for officers to respond. When Trott noticed the Blazer’s door was unlocked and the key was in the ignition, he called police again, this time asking if he could move the SUV out of the way himself.

A dispatcher was “more cryptic” this time, recalls Trott, and apologized for the inconvenience. After being told not to touch the Blazer, he sat in his own vehicle to await an officer.

“For some reason, I just felt a presence behind me,” Trott said with a laugh. “I look in my rearview mirror, and there are I don’t know how many officers — 10 or 15 — with shields and rifles. They’re yelling, ‘Put your hands up and get out of the car!’ ”

Trott briskly complied with the demands. Though police quickly determined he was not their suspect, Trott still holds no grudges about the gunpoint precautions: “They were super nice about it.”

An easy target

KPD records show that the vehicle was stolen earlier Monday morning from a home on East Sevier Avenue — at which time the Blazer was bronze, not black. It was taken after a woman started it to let it warm, then re-entered her residence for 10 minutes. The thief or accomplices soon spray-painted it black.

KPD Public Information Officer Tom Patton says vehicle thefts see a significant uptick in the winter, when many are left unattended to warm up and defrost. He calls the practice “extremely risky,” adding that it should be “avoided at all costs.” Anyone with information about Monday’s incidents or a potential suspect in the case is asked to call Kingsport police at (423) 246-9111.

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