JEFFERSON CITY (WATE) – Tennessee Highway Patrol says they believe the interstate 81 shootings are happening in the evening hours and at night. They also say there is a strong possibility the incidents in Jefferson and Hamblen Counties could be connected to a Greene County shooting, but so far there are no suspects in the investigation.
State officials are investigating after receiving reports of vehicles being shot while traveling on Interstate 81 in Jefferson and Hamblen counties. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Tennessee Fusion Center are asking for help identifying who is responsible.
Investigators are focusing on homes between mile markers 8 and 12 in the northbound section of Interstate 81. Investigators are going door-to-door talking to residents.
State officials say on Friday, September 9, around 10:50 p.m., a commercial vehicle was going north near mile marker 17 in Hamblen County when a small car passed. The driver saw a bridge flash inside the passing vehicle, which he thought was a muzzle flash. THP responded, but neither the trooper nor the driver could find a bullet hole.
On Sunday, September 18, between 11:30 and midnight, the occupants of an armored vehicle going north on I-81 heard a loud noise while traveling somewhere between mile markers 4 and 20 and assumed a tire had blown. When they got to their destination in a nearby state, they instead discovered a bullet hole on the passenger side of the cab.
A bullet went through the front windshield of a vehicle on Tuesday, September 27, around 9:08 p.m. A family was inside the vehicle, which was going northbound around mile marker 20. The driver saw a silver Toyota Camry with a headlight out pass just before the shooting, but it’s not known if that vehicle was involved.
“Very dangerous…some sick individuals,” said Michael Nicholson who drives on I-81 daily.
THP and TFC are trying to identify other jurisdictions that might have reports of vehicles being shot at or have evidence of bullet impacts after passing through East Tennessee on I-81. They’re also looking for leads in finding out who has been firing the shots.
“Head will be on a swivel, what else can you do? It could be anybody you pass, what safe guards can you have against that? I hope they catch them quick,” said Nicholson.
Those with information are asked to call Sgt. Kevin Kimbrough at (423) 426-6571.