Sullivan Co. Deputy Steve Hinkle reported in serious condition following shooting

Jeff Bobo • Updated Feb 23, 2019 at 7:19 PM


BLOUNTVILLE  — A veteran deputy was reported in serious condition, and the suspect was killed Saturday following an early morning shooting in Blountville which started as a request for a welfare check.

Around 12:36 a.m., deputies from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office responded to that request at 3606 Highway 11-W, which is just west of the Route 394 intersection.

Sheriff Jeff Cassidy reported during a press conference Saturday evening that Steve Hinkle, a 27-year veteran of the SCSO, was seriously wounded during an exchange of gunfire with Jackie Scott Pendergrass.

“One of my officers arrived, and right when he arrived, Mr. Pendergrass fired a shot,” Cassidy said. “The officer then retreated towards cover, and deputies responded with fire as well. At some time during the gunfire exchange, Deputy Steve Hinkle was struck by gunfire. Deputy Hinkle was transported to a local hospital, where he is listed in serious condition.

“Numerous attempts were made to negotiate with Mr. Pendergrass, which were unsuccessful. After several hours, entry was made into the residence and the suspect was found deceased.”

Cassidy said his department was assisted by officers from Carter County, Hawkins County, Kingsport, Bristol, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI.

Cassidy described Hinkle as a “very loved” deputy in his department who has worked nearly every facet of the job, including corrections, patrol, school resource officer, process service and courts.

Hinkle began his career in 1986, completed police academy training in 1987 and has since served 27 years with the SCSO.

“Deputy Hinkle is very respected,” Cassidy said. “He’s a father, a grandfather, a brother and also a brother of our agency, and we love him dearly. Our continued prayers for his recovery.”

Cassidy asked everyone to keep Hinkle and his family in their prayers.

As for Pendergrass, Cassidy said there is little information about him and very little previous history of contact with law enforcement.

Pendergrass had no prior criminal history, and the police calls at that residence were limited to two burglary complaints filed in 2011 and a disturbance complaint in 2013.

No information was released about the nature of the check welfare call to which officers responded.

Cassidy noted that the case is now being headed by the TBI, and he won’t be releasing any information related to the ongoing investigation.

“(Pendergrass) wasn’t very well-known to the criminal justice system, and he wasn’t very well-known to officers,” Cassidy said. “Whatever led up to this, of course, is up to further investigation.”

TBI spokesperson Leslie Earhart stated in a press release, “This remains an active and ongoing investigation, as TBI special agents and forensic scientists continue to work to gather any and all relevant interviews and evidence. As in any case, TBI’s investigative findings will be shared with the district attorney general throughout the process.”

Earlier reports:

TBI Press Release

At the request of 2nd District Attorney General Barry Staubus, TBI Special Agents are investigating the circumstances leading to an officer-involved shooting that occurred Saturday morning in Sullivan County.

Preliminary information indicates that the incident started early Saturday morning when Sullivan County deputies responded to 3606 Highway 11W after receiving a request to check the welfare of Jackie Scott Pendergrass (DOB 9/1/74). As deputies approached the residence, Pendergrass fired at least one shot. Deputies retreated and attempted to communicate with Pendergrass. A short time later, Pendergrass began firing at officers again. Deputies returned fire. At some point during the exchange, Deputy Steve Hinkle was struck by gunfire. He was transported to a local hospital where he is in serious condition. Pendergrass retreated and barricaded himself inside the home. Numerous attempts were made to communicate with the subject. After several hours, entry was made into the residence and Pendergrass was found deceased.

This remains an active and ongoing investigation, as TBI Special Agents and Forensic Scientists continue to work to gather any and all relevant interviews and evidence. As in any case, TBI’s investigative findings will be shared with the District Attorney General throughout the process.


BLOUNTVILLE — The Times News has learned that at least one officer was injured as a result of an active shooter incident on Highway 11-W at the Rt. 394 intersection.

A suspect is barricaded in that location and in a standoff with law enforcement officials from Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other surrounding agencies that have responded to assist.

Traffic is being diverted from the area and SWAT is at the scene in armored vehicles.

According to the SCSO

Capt. Andy Seabolt: “We are currently dealing with a barricaded suspect situation at a residence in the 2600 block of Highway 11W in Blountville,. One deputy was injured during an encounter with the homeowner. The deputy has been transported to the hospital for treatment. At this time the situation is active and ongoing. No further information is available. We urge residents to avoid the area.”

Officers with the Mount Carmel Police Department and Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office have responded for mutual aid assistance in Kingsport while Kingsport officers are assisting at the standoff scene.

The Times News will update this report as more information becomes available.

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