KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A woman caught in a drive-by shooting with her kids in the backseat says the increasing gun violence in East Knoxville has her considering leaving the state.

“I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m scared,” said Whitney Stephenson, a mom who was shot in the leg Aug. 15, outside the Holiday Market on Martin Luther King Junior Avenue — a place she says she stops almost daily.

Knoxville Police say the shooter is still at large. The suspect is believed to be in a white or light-colored Pontiac. See images of the suspect vehicle.

Stephenson said it was around 9 p.m. when she pulled into the parking lot with her two kids in the backseat. Someone driving by started shooting at her car, she said.

Stephenson brought her kids to the interview so they could tell the community what happened.

A bullet grazed her son’s face, she said, and would have shot him in the head if he had been just an inch or two taller.

“I heard a gunshot and it hurt my ear,” Stephenson’s oldest son said. “I was crying.” 

Stephenson herself was shot.

“I just felt something hit my leg and it just started burning,” she said, adding that several other bullets grazed her as well.

“I was really just mainly worried about my kids, ” she said. 

When the gunfire stopped, someone called 911. Stephenson said a friend heard the shooting and ran to her car and and tied a belt around her leg to stop the bleeding. An ambulance took her to UT Medical Center while another family friend took her kids home.

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Later, she was able to see the damage to her car.

“There’s like 10 or 11 bullet holes in my driver’s side,” she said.

It will take weeks for Stephenson to recover from her injury, and she worries her children may never forget this traumatic experience.

Several bullets also hit a house nearby. The homeowner told police he dropped to the floor until the shooting stopped. Two bullets entered the home, but no one inside was hurt.

There are multiple ways you can provide anonymous information to Crime Stoppers. You can call 865-215-7165 or **TIPS, and go online at, via the free mobile app, P3 Tips, or on the East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers Facebook page. Tipsters can remain anonymous and are eligible to receive a cash reward.