Taxi driver killed in South Knoxville shooting, police searching

Taxi driver killed in South Knoxville shooting, police searching for suspects, father and friend of victim speak out

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The Knoxville Police Department says the shooting happened around 3:30 p.m. on Sims Road. The Knoxville Police Department says the shooting happened around 3:30 p.m. on Sims Road.
Paul Shepherd, Jr. (source: family) Paul Shepherd, Jr. (source: family)
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A taxi driver was killed in a shooting Sunday afternoon in South Knoxville, and now police are searching for two suspects in the crime.

The Knoxville Police Department says the shooting happened around 3:30 p.m. Sunday on Sims Road.Police identified the victim Monday afternoon as Paul Shepherd, 40, of Kingston. 

Officers say when they arrived at the scene, they found Shepherd had been shot more than once while inside his taxi cab.  Joshua Wright saw the crashed taxi flooding with water from the fire hydrant.

“He was engorged in water the whole front end was engorged in water,” said Wright.

Wright went to pull the driver Paul Shepherd Jr. out of the van to start CPR that's when he says he noticed the gunshot wounds.

“He had three gun shots that we saw, one in the back, one in the shoulder blade and one in the back of the skull,” said Wright.

Wright says he stayed with Shepherd till officers arrived. Shepherd was taken to the hospital and later died.

“It felt that guilt for his family because I know I've lost people and I can't imagine getting a phone call or a cop showing up at the house saying my father has died from a gunshot,” said Wright.

It wasn't the first time Wright had seen Paul Shepherd Jr.

“I was walking to work and he picked me up for free and gave me a ride to work. He was a good man. He really was,” said Wright.

Shepherd was working for Absolutely Taxi and Transportation when the shooting occurred. He had just been hired a couple days prior. According to Shepherd Sr., Shepherd Jr. was a husband and father of three. Paul Shepherd Sr. is still visibly upset and emotional over the loss of his son.

“He always had some kind of dumb joke to tell. He was always happy, always playing with the kids always. His kids were his life,” said Shepherd Sr.

The owner of Absolutely Taxi Ross Batson tells 6 News Shepherd began working for the company on Friday but had worked for taxi companies in the past.

Batson wrote a post saying Shepherd Jr. “left behind a wife and two children. To his family I am so, so sorry. My words can't express what my heart feels.”

Since the shooting the owner says he will now only service downtown and West Knoxville.

Wright says pulling his friend Paul Shepherd Jr. from the taxi has changed his perspective on life.

“Stay as close as you can to your family. If you’re leaving for five seconds down the road tell them you love them and you always love them because you never know,” said Wright.

Detectives were still on the scene nears Sims Road investigating Monday. Shepherd Sr. hopes whoever killed his son is soon behind bars.

“I hope that justice is served for these guys. They need to be caught. They need to be tried. They need to pay for this,” said Shepherd Sr.

A witness told 6 News she saw two cars following the cab, then heard several gunshots and saw two people running from the scene. 

Neighbor Stephen Kroehling said he heard six gunshots coming from a large caliber gun and ducked for safety. He then looked down Sims Road and saw a fire hydrant hit by a cab vehicle.

"This is pretty much a normal routine for this neighborhood with Montgomery Village in the back," Kroehling said.

Knoxville police and the Knox County Sheriff's Office continued their investigation at Montgomery Village apartments, where they arrested one male. They have not said if he is related to the shooting.

William Bailey has lived there about a year, and says he's sick of the violence.

"We want to move because of all the shootings and the kids can't even get out here and play because it's dangerous and I don't want my kids hurt," Bailey said. 

Investigators say they are looking for two black male suspects. The first suspect is reported to be 5 feet 10 inches tall weighing around 170 pounds with a medium build, dark complexion, short hair and wearing a teal polo shirt and khaki shorts. 

The second suspect is reported to be 5 feet 8 inches tall weighing around 160 pounds with a medium build, medium complexion and was wearing a orange polo shirt.

Anyone with information is urged to call KPD at 865-215-7212.

A Gofundme page has been set up to collect donations for the Shepherd family.

6 News Reporters STEPHANIE BEECKEN and KAYLA STRAYER contributed to this report.

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