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Waffle House shooting victim remains hospitalized, suspect arraigned

January 5th, 2012 3:02 pm by Rain Smith

The man arrested in the New Year's Day shooting of a Bristol woman in a Kingsport restaurant was arraigned Thursday morning, while the victim's family continues to question why he opened fire on a complete stranger.

According to Kingsport police, he may have been provoked by nothing more than a glance, as he reportedly asked the victim, "What are you looking at?" shortly before shooting her multiple times.

"I guess he went crazy," said Johnny Smith, whose daughter Kristen Smith, 30, remains hospitalized in Knoxville. "She was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Michael L. Bunche, 23, of 1565 Lawrence St., apartment 3, Kingsport, was arraigned Thursday in Kingsport court. His bond was set at $200,000 with his next court appearance scheduled for Jan. 10. As of Thursday afternoon he had been transferred to the Sullivan County Jail in Blountville.

Smith says his daughter Kristen, of 1733 Windsor Ave., Bristol, Tenn., is in stable condition at UT Medical Center, but is unable to speak with anyone. Kingsport Police Department Det. Cpl. Frank Light reports Kristen was shot multiple times, including once in the mouth, as she exited the restroom of the Waffle House, 1668 East Stone Drive.

Police report Smith was inside the restaurant with a friend at approximately 4 a.m. Bunche, who is not believed to share any relationship with the woman, arrived alone.

Cpl. Light says Bunche was sitting with three other individuals when the four began to argue. Bunche allegedly stood up and displayed a handgun, prompting Waffle House employees to call police.

Bunche reportedly began making his way towards the restaurant's exit. Before walking out he passed where Smith sat, according to witness statements to police, and asked her, "What are you looking at?"

Police say Smith went to the restroom and Bunche reentered the restaurant. An affidavit filed in Kingsport court says he waited in an alcove until Smith exited the restroom, firing on her with the handgun until the weapon was empty.

When police arrived at the scene, two Waffle House customers had Bunche restrained against a glass window. Smith was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center and later to UT Medical Center. The .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun Bunche allegedly used had been reported stolen out of Knoxville.

Cpl. Light says Smith was not involved in the initial argument when Bunche displayed the gun. Those who did accompany the suspect have not been located, with police seeking to conduct additional interviews in the case.

Due to her injuries Smith has not been able to communicate with investigators, while Bunche briefly spoke with police before requesting an attorney. Light said he did not appear to be under the influence of drugs when the incident occurred.

Bunche is charged with attempted first-degree murder, theft of more than $500 and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. KPD Det. David Cole reports Bunche's felony conviction was for identity theft.

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