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Church Hill police recover BB gun used in armed robbery

Jeff Bobo • Feb 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

CHURCH HILL — Church Hill police have tracked down the weapon believed used in the Jan. 18 armed robbery of the Kenjo Market, a black BB pistol, and arrested a local man who had allegedly hidden the gun after the robbery.

Ernest Matthew “Matt” Griffis, 21, 730 Stroupe Court, Apt. 201, Church Hill, was charged Thursday with accessory to armed robbery and tampering with evidence in connection with the Kenjo Market armed robbery allegedly committed by Travis Wayne Gunter.

Police allege that Gunter entered the store Jan. 18 shortly before 10 p.m., brandished a handgun and demanded money before fleeing the store on foot. He then allegedly ran toward the Silver Lake area near Brookstone Apartments and Stroupe Court.

Gunter was later identified by the store clerk and arrested, but the gun wasn’t immediately recovered.

According to a report filed by Church Hill Police Department Detective Dustin Dean, on Jan. 19 a tipster contacted Officer Will Mullins and stated that the weapon used in the Kenjo Market robbery was in Griffis’ apartment. Mullins spoke to Griffis, who denied having the gun and said he hadn’t seen Gunter for several months.

Through his investigation Dean discovered that Gunter had been staying at Stroupe Court not far from Griffis’ apartment.

Dean stated in his report that he spoke to the woman Gunter had been living with at Stroupe Court apartments. That woman told Dean that Gunter had taken her daughter’s black BB pistol sometime over the weekend prior to the robbery and had not returned it.

On Jan. 20 Dean spoke to the woman’s daughter who stated, “she went to the Griffis residence and spoke with Matt who stated the weapon was hidden under a trash can near his bedroom window. She was able to retrieve the weapon from Griffis.”

The gun was subsequently turned over to police.

Griffis was released from the Hawkins County Jail on bond and is scheduled for arraignment in sessions court on March 9.

Last Wednesday, a preliminary hearing was held for Gunter in sessions court on his armed robbery charge, as well as charges related to his alleged Feb. 5 escape from the Hawkins County Jail in which two jailers were beaten. Gunter was captured in Greeneville the next evening.

All of Gunter’s charges were bound over to the grand jury.

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