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Home News Local News Update: Suspect dead in officer-involved shooting

Update: Suspect dead in officer-involved shooting

A Georgia man killed in an officer-involved shooting in Oneida Saturday morning had previously interfered with law enforcement officers attempting to take him into arrest, court records show.

Ron Harlan Lewallen, 30, of Dalton, Ga., was named by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Saturday as the suspect who was killed following a pursuit that ended with shots fired and a crash of his vehicle shortly after midnight.

Lewallen has a lengthy police record, with arrests in several north Georgia jurisdictions over the past several years. Among the charges, which range from shoplifting to drug possession to parole violation and felony probation violation, Lewallen was charged in November 2012 with willful obstruction of law enforcement officers in Whitfield County, Ga.

Lewallen was the driver of a vehicle that was involved in a police pursuit through Oneida at around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Witnesses said the pursuit began on the Four-Lane section of Alberta Street and continued south nearly 1.5 miles. According to the TBI, Lewallen stopped his vehicle near the intersection of Alberta Street and Depot Street. However, investigators said, after a female passenger exited the vehicle, Lewallen refused to comply with officers’ demands and accelerated, nearly striking officers. Shots were fired into the vehicle, which crashed near First National Bank several hundred feet north. Lewallen was declared dead at the scene.

The TBI’s preliminary report did not indicate whether Lewallen was intentionally attempting to run down officers or attempting to flee the scene. There was also no immediate indication whether Lewallen was struck by officers’ shots or whether he died of injuries sustained when his vehicle crashed.

Three officers were involved from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and Oneida Police Department. Their identities have not been released, which is standard procedure in a TBI investigation of officer-involved shootings.

An earlier version of the story follows . . .

The suspect at the center of an officer-involved shooting died Saturday morning, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

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The TBI is handling an external investigation into the incident, which occurred at around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning, following a pursuit that involved law enforcement officers from both the Oneida Police Department and Scott County Sheriff’s Department.

According to the TBI, the suspect’s car crashed on Alberta Street near First National Bank, where he was declared dead.

As the Independent Herald previously reported, the incident followed a police pursuit that began on the Four-Lane section of Alberta Street. The chase continued south for approximately 1.5 miles before the vehicle stopped near the intersection of Alberta Street and Depot Street. There, a female passenger was removed from the car but the male driver accelerated the vehicle, allegedly nearly striking law enforcement officers.

Officers then fired shots at the vehicle, which pulled back onto Alberta Street before crashing several hundred feet away.

The TBI’s initial report did not reveal whether the suspect was struck by bullets from the officers’ guns or whether he died from injuries sustained in the crash.

All officers were said to be okay. Their identities have not been released, and the two occupants of the vehicle, including the deceased, remain unidentified.

Oneida Chief of Police Darryl Laxton deferred questions to the TBI Saturday morning, saying that himself and Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips will prepare a joint statement after the TBI’s preliminary investigation is completed.

The original story follows . . . 

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Tennessee Highway Patrol joined officers from both the Oneida Police Department and Scott County Sheriff’s Department on the scene of what appears to be an officer-involved shooting on Alberta Street in Oneida overnight.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight, just north of Alberta Street’s intersection with Depot Street, near First National Bank.

Several witnesses reported hearing shots fired. Another witness reported that police officers were in pursuit of a vehicle, with the chase beginning along the Four-Lane section of Alberta Street and ending with a crash near the bank about a mile and a half south, where Alberta Street was closed and traffic rerouted.

The TBI has confirmed that it has special agents on the scene of the investigation.

There are currently no updates on the condition of suspects or what precipitated the pursuit. However, there were reportedly no injuries to law enforcement officers.

Oneida Chief of Police Darryl Laxton could not offer comment early Saturday morning, due to the investigation being handled by the TBI. However, Laxton said himself and Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips — both of whom were reportedly on scene following the incident — would release a joint statement at a later time.

If Saturday morning’s incident was indeed an officer-involved shooting, it would mark the third such incident in less than a year in Scott County. In July 2016, a Helenwood man was injured after being shot when he lunged with a knife at a Scott County Sheriff’s Department domestic violence officer who was at his home to arrest him for assaulting his girlfriend. Weeks later, a Kentucky man was injured after being shot by an Oneida Police Department officer in the Walmart parking lot when he brandished a gun at officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance report.

More details will be available on ihoneida.com Saturday and in the June 1, 2017 edition of the Independent Herald.

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Contact the Independent Herald at newsroom@ihoneida.com. Follow us on Twitter, @indherald.
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