Sullivan man arrested after allegedly firing at puppy, striking neighbors' home

Rain Smith • Nov 28, 2012 at 7:04 AM

About three months ago, Melanie McCracken, Frank Hayes and their two young children moved into a mobile home on H. Barnett Drive in Bristol, Tenn.

She said that since then, she and her neighbor have shared a single conversation — a one-sided, unpleasant exchange that proved somewhat prophetic on Monday afternoon.

“He said the first time he saw my dog out, he was going to shoot it,” Melanie McCracken told the Times-News. “And he made good on his promise.”

But the round Thomas McCracken, 51, allegedly fired from his 30.06 rifle just grazed Smokey, an 8-month-old pit bull. It then ricocheted off the ground and hit the side of the neighboring trailer, according to a Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office incident report, prompting his arrest on charges of reckless endangerment.

Melanie McCracken, who police report has no relation to the suspect, says the bullet entered an outer wall of a bedroom in her mobile home. If not for a stud believed to have stopped the round, Jayden, 2, or Ricky, 4, could have been struck.

They were allegedly seated on a beanbag chair in the bedroom watching cartoons at 12:15 p.m., when the shot was fired and lodged in the wall.

According to statements contained in the police report, Thomas McCracken was sitting on his back porch when he fired his rifle. He said Smokey came toward his own dog as if it were going to attack, prompting him to fire a round behind the pit bull to “scare it.”

Melanie McCracken says the puppy suffered flesh wounds to the neck and should be OK, adding it was in the side yard of her property when the incident occurred.

She also acknowledged the stigma attached to the pit bull breed. But Smokey, Melanie McCracken said, has been raised in a loving family with small children. She said his gentle nature reflects that environment.

Monday’s incident, Melanie McCracken contends, was an overreaction on her neighbor’s part.

“He could have killed one of my kids,” she said of the shooting.

SCSO deputies and detectives responded to investigate the incident. Thomas Mc-Cracken, of 212 H. Barnett Drive, was arrested at the scene. He’s charged with four counts of reckless endangerment, one count for each occupant of the home he allegedly shot.

Thomas McCracken was booked into the Sullivan County jail, posted bond Tuesday afternoon and was released.

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