TBI: Suspect in Sullivan standoff committed suicide

Rain Smith • Updated Feb 28, 2019 at 2:19 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The man who spurred a shootout that fatally wounded a Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office deputy eventually turned a gun on himself, according to preliminary autopsy results.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation made the announcement on Thursday, five days after the Saturday morning incident on Highway 11-W. SCSO Sgt. Steve Hinkle, 65, died earlier this week from injuries he received at the scene.

Officers had responded to the home of Jackie Scott Pendergrass for a welfare check, as he had reportedly threatened to harm himself. When police arrived, Pendergrass, 44, opened fire.

Officers took cover and tried to negotiate with Pendergrass, according to the TBI. Authorities say that after about 45 minutes, Pendergrass suddenly began shooting at police for a second time.

In the exchange of gunfire that followed, Hinkle was shot and transported from the scene.

After several hours of trying to make contact with Pendergrass, police forced entry into his home, finding him dead. The TBI says autopsy results show his fatal injury was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

For three days after the incident, Hinkle was listed in critical condition at Bristol Regional Medical Center, then passed away on Tuesday. A celebration of life service is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Sullivan Central High School. That will be followed by a graveside service with full police honors at Oak Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, Hinkle’s family asks that memorial contributions may be made to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department, c/o Steve Hinkle Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 589, Blountville, TN 37617.

Immediately following Saturday’s standoff, Sheriff Jeff Cassidy told the media that current officers weren’t familiar with Pendergrass. Police calls to his home were limited to two burglary complaints in 2011 and a 2013 disturbance complaint.

Pendergrass’ criminal history shows two prior convictions in Tennessee, both in 1993. At that time, when Pendergrass was 19, he was sentenced to serve four consecutive years for arson and aggravated burglary.

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