DeWayne Helton, 49, 735 Howard St., was arrested by Kingsport police early Sunday morning and charged with DUI and possession of stolen property.
However, charges of aggravated assault and theft over $10,000 are pending in Rogersville, where the alleged hammer attack took place shortly after midnight Sunday.
Rogersville Police Department Detective Travis Fields told the Times News that Helton had been living recently with a 55-year-old Kingsport man and his wife. The couple apparently took in Helton because he didn’t have anywhere else to stay.
Helton and the alleged victim were at the Raceway Market in Rogersville shortly after midnight Sunday when, according to store video surveillance, Helton followed the victim into the store and hit him several times in the head with a claw hammer.
Helton then allegedly took the man’s 2018 Dodge Journey and fled the scene.
When RPD Officer Andy Banks arrived, he reportedly observed the victim outside the store “bleeding profusely from the head.”
The victim reportedly told Fields that prior to the attack he was giving Helton a ride to Helton’s girlfriend’s house when they got into an argument.
“(Helton) had his own personal bag in the vehicle, and he went and retrieved the hammer out of that bag,” Fields said. “It was a pretty brutal attack. It went on for several seconds, and the victim was trying to fend him off. There were several hard swings thrown with the hammer that connected with the victim’s head. I know he was transported to the Hawkins County ER, where he received staples or stitches.”
About three hours later, Helton reportedly crashed into another vehicle on West Stone Drive and rolled the Dodge. By that time, the vehicle had been entered into NCIC as stolen, and Kingsport police notified the RPD.
Fields said the bloody hammer was retrieved from the Journey by Kingsport police and held for the RPD to collect as evidence.
Fields said the hammer attack will likely be presented to the Hawkins County grand jury when it meets again in April.