KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler on Monday attributed the attempted car theft that led to a shootout between deputies and the suspects to a social media challenge.
Spangler held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon following the arrest of two juveniles in connection with a shooting in the Wexford Downs subdivision following an attempted car break-in.
Property crimes investigators had been looking into two men in connection with a series of car thefts and burglaries beginning in August. According to police, it all stemmed from an unlikely source.
“This case involved a TikTok challenge where you steal a vehicle, drive it for a day or two and then ditch it,” Spangler said.
No videos of the suspects on TikTok have been found, but Spangler called this new age of social media influence alarming.
“Some of the TikTok Challenges that are out there are pretty disturbing,” Spangler said. “I’m sure that if some of our parents were aware of some of the things that are going on, I hope it would be safe to say they wouldn’t be real happy about that.”
With social media as abundant as ever in this day and age, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is prioritizing its internet monitoring.
“There’s a lot of our technological individuals as well keeping an eye on what’s going on on the internet, social media,” Spangler said. “You start getting information of individuals talking to each other.”
Police are now using this as a tool to track suspects down.
“That’s why they’re criminals because they’re not real smart, at least they don’t put a lot of thought into it. They get by with it for some time but eventually they end up getting caught.”
Spangler was also adamant that officer-involved violence would not be tolerated regardless of age.
“We at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office will not, will not allow criminals regardless of your age to create an unsafe environment for our citizens and our officers at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office,” Spangler said. “If you shoot at one of my officers, we’ll defend their life and the citizens of this community.”
The identities of the suspects are being withheld at this time until hearings on November 27.