Fort Sanders shooting prompts a closer look at halfway house

Fort Sanders shooting prompts a closer look at S. Knoxville halfway house

Posted:
Brandon Middlebrook (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) Brandon Middlebrook (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
Steps House officials say Steps House was established in 1991 and has been successful in turning people's lives around. Steps House officials say Steps House was established in 1991 and has been successful in turning people's lives around.
"I'm a product of this. I came from this program. Basically we take people off the streets or out of prison and we help them rebuild their lives," said Program Director Phillip Clark. "I'm a product of this. I came from this program. Basically we take people off the streets or out of prison and we help them rebuild their lives," said Program Director Phillip Clark.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A 6 News viewer's concerns prompted us to discover the suspect in Tuesday night's triple shooting in Fort Sanders had been a resident of a halfway house.

Police say Brandon Middlebrook, 25, shot two people at an apartment near the intersection of Highland Avenue and 13th Street. Middlebrook was later found shot himself.

Middlebrook will be charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder, aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm once he's out of the hospital.

According to police and court records, Middlebrook's last residence was a halfway house in Knoxville.

A viewer who called the 6 Newsroom said Middlebrook may have lived at the Steps House on Boggs Avenue in South Knoxville and wanted us to look into the facility's admission process and rules.

Steps House Program Director Phillip Clark would not confirm or deny Middlebrook had ever lived there. He says the non-profit does not release any information on their clients.

Clark says Steps House was established in 1991 and has been successful in turning people's lives around.

"I'm a product of this. I came from this program. Basically we take people off the streets or out of prison and we help them rebuild their lives," said Clark.

There are multiple Steps Houses across Knoxville. Clark says the non-profit is currently serving 160 people.

"We deal with clients who suffer with addiction issues. About half of our cliental come from probation and about half are on their own accord," said Clark.

The clients are ordered to the halfway house by a judge or they apply. Steps House accepts clients with all types of convictions, but sex offenders are not allowed in the program.

"We help them get jobs. We have them attend 12-step meetings and we help them get started in a life of recovery," said Clark.

Middlebrook has a long a criminal history. In the past he's been convicted of attempted robbery, vandalism and aggravated assault.

Clients must stay at least a year in the program to graduate. There are three levels to the program.

"In the first phase of our program we keep a real close guarded eye on our clients. They aren't allowed to leave and go anywhere without us knowing where they are. As they advance to phase two they get a little more freedom and then phase three they get more freedom," said Clark.

Clark says if anyone violates the law or the rules by abusing substances, they are kicked out of the program and probation officers are notified. As for complaints, he says the owner handles all of them.

"We've had very, very, few complaints from neighbors. The only complaints from neighbors that we've had since I've been here has been loud music coming from cars not houses," said Clark.

Clark says most clients are successful in the program, only if they stay at least a year and are ready to change.

Some residents who live near Steps House told us they were not concerned about their vicinity to the halfway house.

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