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Extensive history of domestic violence preceded Hawkins murder-suicide

March 12th, 2014 8:33 pm by Jeff Bobo

Extensive history of domestic violence preceded Hawkins murder-suicide

CHURCH HILL — Investigators still don't know the motive for the Tuesday afternoon murder-suicide near Church Hill in which a man shot his live-in girlfriend and himself, although court records indicate the couple shared an extensive history of domestic violence and drug abuse.

In 2013 alone, the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to 111 California Ave. on 12 domestic complaints involving the shooter, 20-year-old Thomas Kirk McCracken. The home belongs to McCracken's grandmother, who made most of the domestic complaints.

McCracken was living there Tuesday with his 21-year-old girlfriend, Sierra Nichole Smith, and their 3-month-old child when he killed Smith and himself in a murder-suicide double shooting.

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said his department was dispatched to the location on a fairly regular basis over the past two years.

In March 2013, the grandmother called 911 and stated McCracken "is very dangerous" and "not supposed to be here."

In June 2013, the grandmother called 911 and stated McCracken was "doing drugs" and "acting crazy," and stole her medication.

The year before, the grandmother had filed an order of protection against McCracken after he allegedly beat her up and stole her vehicle. According to the affidavit filed in March 2012, McCracken held her down, slapped her face, choked her, put a pillow over her face, broke her walker and put holes in the walls.

"I am sore from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet," the grandmother stated in the affidavit.

McCracken didn't contest the order of protection.

The grandmother also filed an order of protection against Smith in February 2012 claiming Smith slapped her, had a smart mouth, overloaded the washing machine and stole her phone.

McCracken and Smith were arrested at least four times each for violation of order of protection. Smith was additionally arrested after arriving at court under the influence of drugs.

On April 12, 2012, McCracken reportedly threatened to cut off his grandmother's head and burn down her house.

The order of protection expired in March 2013, after which Hawkins County Central Dispatch received at least 12 domestic complaints to 111 California Ave.

Authorities had most recently been to the residence on Dec. 30, 2013, when a Child Protective Services caseworker making a call at the residence requested a deputy because of a history of violence at the location.

Lawson said the grandmother was home at the time of Tuesday's shooting, but she didn't hear anything but the gunshots.

He said throughout the day Wednesday his detectives interviewed the couple's family members, friends and other potential witnesses, attempting to piece together what happened prior to the shooting and establish a motive.

"Obviously law enforcement isn't going to be able to prevent every tragedy like this, as much as we'd like to," Lawson said. "This young man was arrested on numerous occasions, went through the courts, spent time in jail, and this still happened.

"Family members need to take notice when there's an ongoing problem like this," he added. "Be aware when warning signs such as threats or escalating violence are presenting themselves. Get law enforcement and the court system involved to keep something like this from happening. The more information we're receiving, the better chance we have of intervening before something like this happens again."

According to the HCSO, at about 2:15 p.m. McCracken shot Smith in the head and then shot himself in the head. McCracken died instantly and Smith died a short time later at Wellmont Holston Valley Medical Center.

The bodies of McCracken and Smith have been sent to the Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City for autopsy.

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