UPDATE: Gunman claims self-defense in Blountville trailer park shooting

Rain Smith • Dec 13, 2012 at 8:27 AM

UPDATE: 11:05 a.m.

BLOUNTVILLE — Detectives are sorting through conflicting accounts from multiple witnesses in a Wednesday night shooting in Blountville, which left one man to undergo surgery and the alleged gunman claiming self-defense.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office reports the incident occurred at approximately 9:30 p.m. at a mobile home park at 1277 Shipley Ferry Rd. SCSO Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart says the altercation apparently began with a dispute over rent between landlord, Ronald Zimmerman, 56, and tenants of lot No. 8.

Police report Zimmerman shot Charles Gibson, 33, after a skirmish spilled over from the mobile home and into a neighboring trailer. Earhart says Zimmerman then ran into a nearby wooded area and dialed 911, complied with a dispatcher’s instructions to drop his gun and returned to the scene.

Zimmerman was detained within a squad car, questioned and later released. He allegedly told investigators that he shot Gibson with a handgun in self-defense, according to Earhart, while statements from other witnesses offer a different account of events.

According to a report filed at the Sheriff’s Office, police arrived to the mobile home park to find Gibson holding a towel over the gunshot wound to his stomach. He was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center by EMS, leaving police to speak with the resident of lot No. 8.

Clayton Allen, 23, reportedly told police that Zimmerman came into his home demanding rent payment. Allen claimed that his landlord then threatened to beat him up and pulled him onto the porch.

When outside Zimmerman allegedly choked, punched and “slammed” Allen against the trailer. Zimmerman is also alleged to have held a gun to his temple and threatened to kill him.

Allen and Gibson reportedly ran to the neighboring mobile home, where Gibson was allegedly shot in the abdomen by Zimmerman. Earhart said police are still attempting to determine if Gibson actually lived at lot 8 with Allen.

Some witnesses say he did, others said he didn’t, while the address on his license is listed as Jackson Road in Rogersville.

As of late Thursday morning Gibson remained hospitalized after undergoing surgery. Earhart says an investigation into the shooting is continuing with no charges yet placed, as detectives are working to determine how the situation escalated and exactly what transpired.

Investigators will share their findings with the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office for review.



One man was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen following a Wednesday night dispute in Blountville.

The incident occurred at approximately 9:30 p.m. at 1277 Shipley Ferry Road. The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office reports the shooter was taken into custody, while a dispute between landlord and tenant is suspected as the cause of the altercation.

Police are continuing to interview both men involved with charges pending.

Check back with Timesnews.net for more information as it becomes available.

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