The shooter, identified as Brian Keith Stalans, 44, was taken into custody and is being held for investigation pending charges that will likely be placed on him Friday, according to the Blount Count Sheriff’s Office.
The officer, whose name was being withheld pending notification of family, was pronounced dead at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said. He said some family members of the officer, who is the father of three children, were out of town and couldn’t be reached.
The chief asked for prayers as he spoke at a news conference outside the emergency room just before dusk.
“We ask our citizens to remember this officer’s family and his three small children,” Crisp said.
The shooting happened around 4 p.m. near the corner of Kerrway Lane and Alcoa Trail, Crisp said.
Officers had been called to the home earlier in the day but left without making an arrest, the chief said. He didn’t say why no arrest was made.
The Maryville officer and a Blount County Sheriff’s Office deputy, both members of the 5th Judicial District Drug Task Force, responded to the second call, which “involved a gun,” Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said. He didn’t give the deputy’s name.
Another unit had been dispatched, but the narcotics team was in the area and responded to the call, authorities said.
The law enforcement officers parked their car at a residence about 70 years behind the house from which the call originated, according to the Blount County Sheriff’s Office news release sent late Thursday night.
Once on the scene, investigators were able to take the victim, who is Stalans’ father, into a safe area. The officers had then positioned themselves behind their vehicle waiting on help to arrive while watching the house when Stalons opened fire on them from his father’s garage, the news release said.
The Maryville police officer, who was wearing a ballistic vest, was shot in the neck.
The other investigator, a Blount County deputy, returned fire on Stalans. Another Blount County deputy arrived on the scene during this time and returned fire on Stalons.st
The deputies were able to take Stalons into custody and he was transported to the Blount County Detention Facility.
The two Blount County deputies are currently on administrative leave with pay.
Zack Wooldridge, who lives nearby, said he heard the gun battle break out.
“It was definitely more than one shot — multiple gunshots,” he said.
Knoxville police escorted the ambulance carrying the officer on the drive to the hospital along Alcoa Highway. Deputies remained at the shooting scene into the night, with much of the road closed, while deputies from neighboring Loudon and Anderson counties helped out with patrols.
His voice wavering during the news conference, Crisp said the officer had been with the Maryville Police Department for “several years.”
“He had recently been assigned to the narcotics unit,” Crisp said.
The last time a Maryville police officer was killed on duty was more than three decades ago on Feb. 21, 1981, when John Michael Callahan II was struck by a drunken driver while riding his patrol motorcycle on Merritt Road, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police deaths in the line of duty.
Crisp said officers of the department will lean on one another for support in the days to come.
“We live in a great place, and we’re not immune to tragic events like this,” Crisp said. “We’re grateful for our city, and this is a sad day for our city. We ask all people to join in our prayers.”
Nationwide, 75 officers have died in the line of duty so far this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation website.
Four of those deaths had been reported in Tennessee as of earlier this week. The state is tied with California for third in the nation, according to the foundation.