Gunshot victim speaks out after capture of third suspect

Cocke Co. gunshot victim talks about his friend's death after capture of third suspect

Posted:
Josh Baker admits he led a high-risk lifestyle back then, but says his friend who died was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Josh Baker admits he led a high-risk lifestyle back then, but says his friend who died was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Keith Thomas (source: TBI) Keith Thomas (source: TBI)
Rico Sterling (source: TBI) Rico Sterling (source: TBI)
James Brewer (source: TBI) James Brewer (source: TBI)

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

NEWPORT (WATE) - A young man who was shot in the head and watched his buddy die in his arms is speaking out after the final suspect in the case was arrested.

Fugitive Keith Thomas from the TBI's most wanted list was captured Tuesday. He's facing robbery and murder charges from an attack in Cocke County back in 2012.

Josh Baker, 25, is very relieved. He admits he led a high-risk lifestyle back then, but says his friend who died was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He was killed for nothing," Baker said.

That June night in 2012, Baker says his friend Will Mortimer was at his house when three other guys stopped by including Thomas, Rico Sterling and James Brewer, who were arrested this January. Baker says the scene quickly turned violent with the three suspects demanding money.

"He put the gun in my face and said, 'I'm going to kill you if you don't give me what I want.' And I said, 'You're going to have to cause I don't have anything.' And I hit him and I moved and boom. The gun blasted by my head," Baker said.

He says his friend Will tried to run for help. Josh heard more gunshots and the suspects fled. Then he saw Will.

"He raised his shirt up and they had shot him two times in the chest. He was crying. He said 'Make sure you tell my mom I love her and I'm sorry.' He told me he was sorry that he couldn't help me. I told him I was sorry and we were going to get them. We're going to get them," Baker said. "He just looked at me and he took his last breath in my hands."

Baker recovered from the bullet that grazed his skull, but not the memories of losing his friend. He's speaking out now only because the final suspect is behind bars. 

"I was ecstatic. I cried. I was shaking. It's a relief knowing that nobody else's families will deal with what me and Will's family have dealt with," he said.

Baker says what's he's lived through convinced him to clean up his life and now he speaks to other addicts about the dangers of drugs.

"If you love your friends and you love your family, you don't want to put anybody in that circumstance," Baker said.

Thomas is scheduled for arraignment on Monday. Baker says he plans to be at every court date for all three defendants.

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