KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Authorities are searching for a suspect who forced a Knoxville woman at gunpoint to drive him before stealing the car, abandoning it in Jefferson County and attempting a second carjacking.
Knoxville Police responded to 3701 Sevierville Pike just before 7 p.m. Wednesday in reference to a carjacking that occurred at the Planet Fitness on Chapman Highway. A 20-year-old woman told investigators she was sitting in the parking lot when a male suspect broke her passenger side window and pointed a handgun at her.
The suspect entered the vehicle and demanded she drive him to a location. As they drove down Sevierville Pike, the victim fled from the vehicle near SoKno Taco Cantina to get help. The suspect then fled north on Sevier Avenue in the victim’s vehicle.
The vehicle was later located in Jefferson County near 11E and Whitaker Road. The suspect was reportedly seen fleeing from the area after attempting to carjack a second motorist. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday they were searching for a carjacking suspect considered armed and dangerous in the Whitaker Road area of New Market.
The suspect was described as a 40-50 year-old white male with a dark hair, tanned skin and a pronounced widow’s peak hairline. He had on a green/blue-colored flannel with a white tank top underneath, dirty blue jeans and blue aviator sunglasses.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department advised residents on Whitaker Road, Lowery Loop Road, Rainbow Lane, Rocky Valley Road and Friends Station Road to be on the lookout.
Security has been increased at two New Market schools Thursday morning as deputies search for the suspect.
UPDATED AUGUST 5 7:30 P.M.
The suspect had been spotted in the area late Thursday afternoon but the rough terrain has made the manhunt difficult.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Coffey said, “some of our special operations team that was coming in spotted him and engaging with a foot pursuit into the area that’s behind me which the helicopters are flying over now. We had a perimeter set up and a canine track.”
At around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sheriff Coffey was pretty confident that the suspect was still in the Whitaker Road area of New Market.
“Some of these areas in here it’s so thick that you have to get down on your hands and knees and crawl through,” he said. “Our plan this afternoon is to bring in some support from the highway patrol and some other sort teams from Jefferson City and hours to deploy and do some more searches this afternoon.”
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