Man arrested for attempted murder of a police officer released shortly after arrest

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KNOXVILLE, TN – Police in Knoxville recently arrested a 20-year-old man under charges of attempted murder against a police officer. Authorities say that the suspect in question fired multiple gunshots at police officers while fleeing from a pursuit on July 25th.

The suspect involved in the July 25th shooting incident was identified as James M. Ketner, who police say self-surrendered to authorities on July 26th after eluding police during a chase the day prior.

At 2:15 a.m. on July 25th, officers from the Knoxville Police Department responded to Cumberland Avenue after reportedly hearing gunshots go off. That’s when officers allegedly encountered Ketner, as the suspect was seen in possession of a rifle hosting a pistol-grip and firing rounds into the air.  

When police attempted to confront Ketner, he allegedly fled in a white Nissan Sentra. According the KPD press release, that is when a pursuit began:

“Officers attempted to make contact with the vehicle and observed it turn south onto Alcoa Highway. At that time, the suspect fired one round towards a KPD officer’s unmarked vehicle and [exited] onto Cherokee Trail.”

After shaking the pursuing officers in that initial instance, another unit spotted the white Nissan on Fern Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue about 90 minutes after that first interaction with law enforcement.

When police started to follow the suspect’s vehicle, Ketner reportedly stopped the car near Yellowstone Road and unleashed approximately 20 rounds on the pursuing officer’s squad car. Miraculously, no one was hurt – and the suspect didn’t even strike the officer’s vehicle once.

Still, Ketner was able to flee once again after that dangerous encounter.

Police were able to track the license down to a James Michael Smith, which happens to be the father of the suspected shooter. It was after that discovery that police spoke with the family, and Ketner turned himself into police.

Investigators suspect that Ketner may also have been involved in a previous shooting incident that happened earlier in the evening near the area where police first made contact with him, according to KPD spokesman Scott Erland:

“Based on how we initially made contact with the subject, with him being observed shooting randomly into the air in the Cumberland Avenue area, there is a high probability that he was involved in previous shots fired calls in the area.”

Ketner was noted as having a previous arrest on his record from May of 2019 for charges of kidnapping and domestic assault, which stemmed from an incident with his then-girlfriend. However, the case was reportedly dropped after the state failed to pursue a prosecution.

Upon turning himself in, Ketner was given a bail amount of $70,000 for the charges and reportedly already posted the bond shortly after booked into the county jail.

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In other investigations involving shots fired at officers, police say that a Florida man that is a homicide suspect was reportedly shot numerous times during exchanged gunfire with deputies in Georgia on July 22nd.

The suspect is currently hospitalized, while a deputy had reportedly suffered a graze wound during the fray.

The suspect in question is 37-year-old William “Billy” Welland, from Tampa, Florida. Police arrested Welland in Lanier County after authorities in Tampa had Welland listed as a suspect in the killing of a 29-year-old man on July 21st.

Welland, a convicted felon, was just released from prison back in February of this year after serving a 10-year sentence for various robberies in Hillsborough County, Florida.

What led authorities in Georgia to happening upon Welland started out as a report of a home invasion in Lakeland where a homeowner was shot and the suspect tried to steal their vehicle.

Authorities were able to identify Welland as the suspect involved in the home invasion and shooting in Lakeland.

The condition of the homeowner shot in Lakeland has not been released at this time, but it was reported that they’re being treated at a hospital in Valdosta, Georgia.

Police were then able to spot the stolen vehicle that belonged to the Florida murder victim that Welland had been using since fleeing from the state, and a chase began.

While the chase was ongoing, Welland crashed the stolen Audi, and had managed to steal a mini-van while police were hot on his tail.

The chase had eventually ended in Lanier County, but that was also the point where Welland was said to have opened fire at deputies. A female deputy, who was reportedly on her first shift with the department after having previously worked with the Adel Police Department, was grazed by a bullet in her arm.

The deputy hit was said to have been treated at Valdosta hospital and released shortly thereafter. Investigators from the Tampa Police are currently in Georgia following up on the homicide investigation from Florida.

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