“We ask our citizens to remember this officer’s family, his three small children,” Crisp said. “It’s a very trying time for his family, it’s a trying time for the men and women of the Maryville Police Department, it’s a trying time for the law enforcement in this community.”
Officer Kenny Moats, 32, was killed by a single bullet that hit his neck, just above his bulletproof vest, city officials said Friday morning.
Moats and a Blount County Sheriff’s deputy happened to be in the area as part of a narcotics investigation involving a task force that combined local law enforcement agencies.
Other officers had responded earlier in the day to a domestic violence call, but did not have enough probable cause to take someone into custody, Berrong said. In the afternoon, they received another call about domestic violence, this one “involving a gun,” Berrong said.
Because Moats and the sheriff’s deputy were working on their case nearby, they responded to the call. The victim in this incident was the father of the man authorities say shot and killed Moats, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
“When they exited their vehicle, the perpetrator had exited the house, armed with a firearm, and began shooting,” Crisp said. “Unfortunately, we had an officer, a Maryville police officer who was shot and killed.”
The deputy returned fire and didn’t hit the shooter, but the attacker “responsible for this crime” was taken into custody, Crisp said.
Moats was not immediately named after the shooting because authorities were still trying to reach relatives that were out of town, but the city named him in a statement Friday morning. The statement from Maryville’s city government said “his career with the city has been stellar,” adding that he had received commendations for his work from citizens.
Crisp also alluded to the recent tensions sparked by shootings of and by police officers, an issue that dominated national news for weeks in July after a rash of deadly violence.
“Right now, we’ll lean on one another. … We’re not immune to tragic events such as this,” he said. “We have a strong community and they’ll rally around, as they’ve been supporting our officers and deputies over the last number of months, as this profession has been under a lot of stress, for lack of a better word.”
Moats became the 37th member of law enforcement to be shot and killed in the line of duty this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that keeps track of such deaths.
That number is ahead of this point last year, when 23 officers had been shot and killed, while the overall number of officer deaths is the same as it was on this date in 2015, because of a decrease in traffic-related deaths and officers killed by other causes.
In some of these cases this year, these officers have died in high-profile incidents, like the ambushes last month in Dallas and Baton Rouge that killed eight police officers. These attacks came not long after officers in Louisiana and Minnesota shot and killed people, and the flurry of shootings in July again pushed issues of how police use deadly force and fears felt by officers into the national consciousness.
But in many cases, line-of-duty deaths are not the high-profile kind of shootings like those in Dallas and Baton Rouge that drew intense national attention. They are more akin to what happened in Maryville, and have occurred while officers were responding to a report of gunfire in Kansas, serving a warrant in South Carolina or serving an eviction notice in Colorado.
The first officers killed in the line of duty in 2016 were officers in Utah and Ohio, both shot and killed over the same weekend. Other officers have been shot but survived, like the Philadelphia officer who was sitting in his car when a gunman who later said he pledged loyalty to the Islamic State fired a volley of bullets into the vehicle, or the Florida officer shot in his car weeks later.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit that also tracks line-of-duty deaths, Moats is the fourth office from his department killed in the line of duty. His death occurred 105 years to the day after the first such death, when Marshal J. Henry Clemens was shot and killed trying to arrest a suspect.
This story, first published at 9:37 a.m., has been updated with the name of the officer, which was released Friday morning.