KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knox County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. Team has taken a suspect who barricaded themselves into a North West Knoxville church into custody without incident.
Amherst Elementary School was on lockdown as a precaution after the suspect barricaded himself inside a nearby church that is under construction, according to the Knox County Sherriff’s Office.
A department spokesperson said the standoff began when deputies attempted to serve a warrant on a man near that area just after 11 a.m. The suspect then barricaded himself inside the church that is under construction near Ball Camp Pike and Schaad Road.
Assistant Chief Deputy Wesley Norris with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said while on the scene, “upon contact with the individual he pulled away and ran, they did notice a weapon in his pocket as he was running away. He ran into the church which is under construction behind us and barricaded himself in there.”
Crisis negotiators responded to the scene. A spokesperson for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect was believed to be armed.
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Assistant Chief Deputy Wesley Norris said every precaution was taken to keep those who live around the area safe,
“We don’t believe there was any danger at all. We put the school on lockdown just as a precaution because of the close proximity of the church where he was barricaded. He was completely surrounded so he wasn’t coming out of the church. We knew there was no one in the church as far as workers go, so we felt comfortable knowing that he was the only one in there.”
The public was asked to avoid the area at the time. After 2 p.m. all personnel were off the scene, roads were back open, and parents were able to pick up their kids when school let out.
Anatolie Racila, 32, was charged with assault- threat of bodily harm, resisting arrest and evading arrest. He will be arraigned Thursday, Aug. 26 in Knox County Criminal Court.