Knoxville man dies after suicide call turns into shooting

Knoxville man dies after suicide call turns into officer-involved shooting

Posted:
Knox County dispatchers received a call around 9 p.m. from a male threatening suicide with a firearm on the 4100 block of Tazewell Pike. Knox County dispatchers received a call around 9 p.m. from a male threatening suicide with a firearm on the 4100 block of Tazewell Pike.
Clifford Crowe (Courtesy: Crowe Family/Facebook) Clifford Crowe (Courtesy: Crowe Family/Facebook)
Sgt. Bob Maxwell (source: Knoxville Police Department) Sgt. Bob Maxwell (source: Knoxville Police Department)
Officer Derek Swartz (source: Knoxville Police Department) Officer Derek Swartz (source: Knoxville Police Department)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A suicide call ended with a Knoxville police officer opening fire on a suspect Thursday night who later died at the hospital.

Police say the sister of suspect Clifford Crowe, 55, called 911 around 9:05 p.m. to say her brother was having medical problems, but he did not want help and was threatening to shoot himself and anyone who came into the home located at 4111 Tazewell Pike.

Two Knoxville police officers, Sgt. Bob Maxwell, 52, and Officer Derek Swartz, 30, repeatedly tried to speak to Crowe and provide assistance.

Crowe was hiding under a bed and fired at the officers as they entered the bedroom. Neither officer was injured.

Sgt. Maxwell returned fire, hitting Crowe several times.

Crowe was taken to UT Medical Center where he died from his injuries during surgery.

In her call to 911, police say Crowe's sister told them he was bipolar and having medical problems.

"She thought he was having heart attack, possibly a stroke. She said at one point he was having a hard time walking," said Chief David Rausch.

Rausch says medics and firefighters were the first to respond, but had to wait for officers because the sister also said Crowe had a gun.

"They have to go in and assess the situation. We're told he's having a medical crisis, so they need to go in and assess so medical can come in and provide assistance," Rausch said.

Rausch says Crowe was in a far back bedroom without a phone, so they couldn't communicate with him without entering the home.

"We can always sit back and say why didn't you do this and why didn't you do that, but when an officer arrives on a scene, their responsibility immediately is for safety of the individual they're there to check on," Rausch said.

And he says there just wasn't time to call in a specially-trained crisis intervention officer.

"That would have been after the initial assessment. We just didn't have time. Literally we're on scene for less than a minute when the shooting took place," Rausch said.

Chief Rausch says at this point, he believes the officers acted appropriately.

"We certainly had no intention of harming anyone. That's the last thing an officer ever wants to do," the chief said.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard operating procedure after a shooting.

Once the investigation has been completed, the file will be forwarded to the Knox County District Attorney General's Office for review.

Back in 1997, Sgt. Maxwell was a patrol officer when he shot and killed a 63-year-old man. Officers were attempting to serve a warrant for his failure to appear in court on a disorderly conduct charge. The suspect grabbed a shotgun and locked himself in a bathroom. After trying to get him to come out, Maxwell kicked in the bathroom door and the suspect fired at him. Maxwell fired back and killed the suspect.

Crowe has a criminal history in Knox and Jefferson County, including four DUI charges and possession of marijuana.

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