JONESVILLE — The shooting of a Good Samaritan during an apparent robbery attempt Thursday has Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons advising motorists in his county to exercise caution before offering assistance to strangers.
Parsons said Marty Miles, 39, Route 1, Box 243, Jonesville, was shot three times with a small-caliber handgun Thursday morning after he stopped to offer assistance to an apparently stranded motorist.
“If you don’t know someone personally, I would advise that you don’t stop, but that you instead call our office and we’ll check things out and find out what the problem is,” Parsons said Friday. “I’m not telling anyone not to be a Good Samaritan, but just be sure you’re safe if you offer assistance.”
Investigator Lt. Fred Rouse said the incident took place in the Hurricane section of Lee County at approximately 9:45 a.m. when Miles was on his way home.
According to Rouse, Miles was traveling west on Route 616 when he observed a forest green minivan, possibly a Dodge Caravan with Tennessee plates, pulled off in a wide spot about a half mile from his home. As the vehicle had its hood up, Miles suspected the vehicle had broken down, so he pulled alongside to offer assistance.
The driver of the vehicle told Miles that he’d just hit a deer and believed he merely needed a jump-start. Miles reported that he observed that the grill and the right side headlight were missing and he found the story plausible, said the investigator. Miles said the driver — a male approximately 50 years old and about 6 feet tall with gray hair and a “long burr” haircut — said he had cables for the jump-start.
When Miles got out of his vehicle to open the hood, said Rouse, the man struck him with his fist in the left eye, knocking him to one knee. As Miles began to fight back, the man fled toward his vehicle and Miles gave chase. However, said the investigator, a second man suddenly came up behind Miles and put his right arm around his neck.
At that point, Miles saw a small black handgun with a pearl handle, heard three shots and two clicks, then realized he’d been shot. The man turned him loose, and Miles then noticed that the suspect had his wallet. The second man rifled through the wallet, and when he saw that it contained no money he threw it back into Miles’ truck and told the first man that they needed to get out of there. The two then jumped into the van and headed west on Route 616.
Miles then left the scene and went home, where he called the sheriff’s department. He was later taken to Wellmont Lee Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for two small-caliber gunshot wounds to the upper left arm and a grazing wound to the left thigh and then released.
Rouse said Miles was unable to get a good look at the second suspect and could only describe him as being taller than the first man, having dark hair and a ponytail.
While the department has contacted all area law enforcement agencies and asked them to be on the lookout for the vehicle and the suspects, investigators still have no leads in the case. Parsons said area agencies have reported no similar crimes in their jurisdictions.
Rouse said the suspects should be considered armed and dangerous, and if anyone sees the vehicle and men matching the descriptions, they should immediately contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Department at (276) 346-7777.
Anyone with possible information on the suspects is also encouraged to contact the department. Information may be left anonymously by calling the sheriff’s TIPS hotline at (276) 346-7706.
“If there is anyone that may have seen that van in the area Thursday, we’d sure be glad to talk to them,” said Rouse.