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Update: KPD says shooting of man with weapon was justified, parents claim son was unarmed

June 12th, 2013 11:46 am by Rain Smith

Update: KPD says shooting of man with weapon was justified, parents claim son was unarmed

Police process the scene of Tuesday morning's shooting on Watauga Street. Photo by David Grace.

Update: 4 p.m.

Kingsport police are still declining to identify the alleged weapon a wanted man reportedly threatened officers with during a Tuesday morning standoff — prompting one to shoot him in the abdomen — but the suspect's family claims it was a roof shingle.

"When there's a gun involved, (police) specify that to give the reason for shooting them out of the way," Jeff Caldwell, the shooting victim's father, told the Times-News on Wednesday. "They put out there (to the media) an unspecified weapon, because it wasn't a gun and they want to justify that shooting."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the incident, which began at approximately 1:40 Tuesday morning at 1357 Watauga St. Kingsport police had received information that Jeffrey Chase Caldwell, 25, was at the residence and wanted on warrants for theft in both Sullivan and Hawkins counties.

When confronted by police, according to the TBI, Caldwell went onto the back roof of the residence with a weapon. On Tuesday, both the KPD and TBI declined to identify what Caldwell was allegedly armed with.

The Times-News checked back with the KPD on Wednesday morning, asking if they could identify the weapon. KPD Spokesperson Officer Tom Patton said department officials were getting together later in the day, planning to discuss what additional information about the incident, if any, could be released.   

At 3:20 p.m the KPD issued a press release to the media. It again declined to identify the alleged weapon Caldwell wielded in the shooting incident, but stressed police were justified in their actions.

"(Caldwell) took very specific actions which very reasonably led the officers on scene to believe they were at imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death," states the release, adding an officer took immediate action to eliminate the threat.

“The suspect (Mr. Caldwell) created this situation," said KPD Interim Chief of Police David Quillin in the prepared statement. "The Kingsport Police Department responded, as required by duty and obligation, to a situation and location where a wanted man was believed to be. Once contact was established with Mr. Caldwell, he and he alone dictated the outcome of this incident."

The press release added that  the department strives to be transparent and cooperative with both the public and media. "However, in many instances such as this, there is often specific information which simply cannot be released until the appropriate time in the quite lengthy criminal justice process."
 
On Tuesday KPD Officer Patton stated that Caldwell was shot approximately two and a half hours into the standoff after making "threatening gestures toward the officers with the weapon."

Caldwell was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center with one gunshot wound to the abdomen. He remained in the intensive care unit on Wednesday morning.

It was in intensive care that Jeffrey Caldwell claims he learned from his son what transpired during the shooting: "I asked if he remembered anything. He said, 'Yes.' I asked him if he had a weapon, and he said, 'No, it was a shingle.' "

After leaving the hospital Jeffrey Caldwell says he went to the scene of the shooting, the home of his son's girlfriend's parents.  Jeffrey Caldwell says they had returned from an out of town trip  — they were not home when the incident occurred  — and he and one of the residents walked onto the roof where his son was shot.

"It's a new roof, and one shingle was missing," he tells the Times-News. "After I saw that, I believed (his son's account)."

Both of Jeffrey Chase Caldwell's parents claim their son has never carried weapons and has no history of violent offenses.

"His crimes were stealing iPads from some cars at Ridgefields County Club," says his mother, Deena Caldwell.

Deena says her son was expected to be moved from ICU to a different room on Wednesday. The gunshot from police hit his ribs and liver, collapsing a lung.

"The was no reason for them to think he was a threat to them," said Deena. "Plus he was high up on a roof. What did they think Chase was going to do?"

KPD Interim Police Chief Quillin says he feels the officer who shot Caldwell will be vindicated for the action he took, adding all officers on scene exhibited an enormous amount of patience in dealing with the situation.

Quillin said the shooting of the suspect, when he made threatening moves toward officers with the alleged weapon, was an "absolutely last resort."

The morning of the shooting, a next door neighbor of where the incident occurred concurred with Quillin's sentiment on patience. Randall Housewright told the Times-News he was awakened by the commotion and looked out his window, taking in the scene as officers attempted to coax an "incoherent" Caldwell off the roof.

He ultimately went back to bed, saying the events grew a little dull to watch, and didn't witness the shooting.

"I was very impressed by how patient they were," said Housewright. "Most people wouldn't have been when dealing with that situation."

Both of the suspect's parents acknowledged their son's previous incidents of running afoul of the law. His father also mentions a history of drug abuse.

But to them, and their shared belief in their son's account of the incident, the shooting is still not justified.

"The only thing Chase was guilty of (Tuesday morning) was running from the police," Deena Caldwell said of her son's actions.

Caldwell's girlfriend, Kelly Gardner, was arrested Tuesday at the scene of the incident, charged with filing a false police report.

Both the TBI and KPD have declined to identify the officer who shot Caldwell. At the conclusion of the TBI's investigation, their findings will be handed over to Sullivan County District Attorney Gen. Barry Staubus.

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Previous story

Kingsport police are still declining to identify the alleged weapon a wanted man reportedly threatened officers with during a Tuesday morning standoff — prompting them to shoot him in the abdomen — but the suspect's family claims it was a roof shingle.

"When there's a gun involved, (police) specify that to give the reason for shooting them out of the way," Jeff Caldwell, the shooting victim's father, told the Times-News on Wednesday. "They put out there (to the media) an unspecified weapon, because it wasn't a gun and they want to justify that shooting."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the incident, which began at approximately 1:30 Tuesday morning at 1357 Watauga St. Kingsport police had received information that Jeffrey Chase Caldwell, 25, was at the residence, and wanted on warrants for theft in both Sullivan and Hawkins Counties.

When confronted by police, according to the TBI, Caldwell went onto the back roof of the residence with a weapon. On Tuesday both the KPD and TBI declined to identify what Caldwell was allegedly armed with.

The Times-News checked back with the KPD on Wednesday morning, asking if they could identify the weapon. KPD Spokesperson Officer Tom Patton said department officials were getting together later on Wednesday, planning to discuss what additional information about the incident, if any, could be released.   

Patton previously stated that Caldwell was shot approximately two and a half hours into the standoff after making "threatening gestures toward the officers with the weapon."

Caldwell was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center with one gunshot wound to the abdomen. He remained in the intensive care unit on Wednesday morning.

It was in intensive care that Jeffrey Caldwell claims he learned from his son what transpired during the shooting: "I asked if he remembered anything, he said, 'Yes.' I asked him if he had a weapon, and he said, 'No, it was a shingle.'"

After leaving the hospital Jeffrey Caldwell says he went to the scene of the shooting, the home of his son's girlfriend's parents.  Jeffrey Caldwell says they had returned from an out of town trip — were not home when the incident occurred  — and he and one of the resident's walked onto the roof where his son was shot.

"It's a new roof, and one shingle was missing," he tells the Times-News. "After I saw that I believed (his son's account)."

Both of Jeffrey Chase Caldwell's parents claim their son has never carried weapons and has no history of violent offenses.

"His crimes were stealing iPads from some cars at Ridgefields County Club," says his mother, Deena Caldwell.

Deena says her son was expected to be moved from ICU to a different room on Wednesday, with the gunshot from police hitting his ribs and liver, collapsing a lung.

"The was no reason for them to think he was a threat to them," said Deena. "Plus he was high up on a roof. What did they think Chase was going to do?"

A next door neighbor of where the shooting occurred told the Times-News he witnessed officers attempting to talk Caldwell off the roof for about an hour, and commended their patience in dealing with the situation.

And both of the suspect's parent's acknowledged their son's previous incidents of running afoul of the law. His father also mentions a history of drug abuse.

But to them, and their shared belief in their son's account of the incident, the shooting is still not justified.

"The only thing Chase was guilty of (Tuesday morning) was running from the police," Deena Caldwell said of her son's actions.

Caldwell's girlfriend, Kelly Gardner, was arrested Tuesday at the scene of the incident, charged with filing a false police report.

Both the TBI and KPD have declined to identify the officer or officers who fired at Caldwell. At the conclusion of the TBI's investigation, their findings will be handed over to Sullivan County District Attorney Gen. Barry Staubus.

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