This is the .32 caliber revolver that a suspect pointed in the face of CHPD assistant chief Roddy Miller during a foot pursuit early Thursday morning. (photo courtesy of CHPD)
CHURCH HILL — With a pistol pointed in his face, instincts and training took over for a Church Hill police officer who disarmed a desperate gunman early Thursday morning after witnessing an attempted burglary.
Around 3 a.m. Thursday CHPD assistant chief Roddy Miller observed a man at the rear door of Patsy's Bakery in the Church Hill Shopping Center.
Chief Mark Johnson said it was later determined that the man was attempting to break in to the bakery.
Miller, who was patrolling Richmond Street near Pal's at the time, drove to that location and a short foot pursuit ensued.
"The suspect attempted to cross the creek behind the business where Miller was able to grab him by the back of his pants," Johnson said. "At this point Miller was in the creek and the suspect was attempting to crawl up the creek bank on the east side. The suspect immediately turned around and pointed a pistol at Miller's head. Holding the suspect with his left hand, Miller raked and twisted the gun out of the suspect's hand."
Johnson added, "The suspect then kicked down and rearward striking Miller in his shoulder knocking him (Miller) backwards. The suspect then fled east in the direction of Hawkins Avenue."
The pistol was a loaded Smith & Wesson .32 caliber, 6 shot, nickel-plated revolver with the grips missing. The serial number had been filed off.
Johnson noted that the pistol is in rough condition, but it is functional.
The suspect was dressed in black and was wearing gloves, but Miller didn't get a good look at the suspect's face.
A small pry bar was also recovered from the scene, and it and the pistol are being sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab for analysis.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Miller's strength, mobility, and quick reaction time saved his life," Johnson said. "This was extremely close to becoming the telephone call that no police chief ever wants to get."
Business surveillance cameras show a dually pickup driving through the shopping center twice before the incident — once about 30 minutes prior to the incident and again about 10 minutes before the incident.
The make and model of the truck aren't clear, and Johnson said it's not know if that truck was related to the attempted break in.
The CHPD is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who can provide information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
Anyone with credible information may come to the Church Hill Police Department, 302 E Main Blvd, Church Hill; call 423-357-7181; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.