Police have identified a man they say was a suspect in a shoplifting incident earlier in the day who died Thursday in a head-on crash.
The Knoxville Police Department says two officers were on their way to a crash on Interstate 640 between Gap Road and Western Avenue when they were made aware of a shoplifting suspect who had fled from the Pilot on Western Avenue in a Honda Civic.
While officers were nearing the crash scene, they saw the suspect go east on I-640 and tried to stop him, but he fled. Officers did not give chase and continued to the earlier crash scene. They saw the suspect exit onto Gap Road and go south.
The officers were investigating the I-640 crash when a 911 call came in about a serious crash on Gap Road near Leflore Avenue. When officers arrived there, they saw that two vehicles had hit head-on, one of which was the Honda Civic driven by the shoplifting suspect. The man, identified as Benjamin Richey, 26, of Knoxville, was pronounced dead at the scene.
It’s believed the Civic crossed the yellow line and hit the other vehicle, a 2018 Dodge Charger, head-on.
A female passenger in the Honda was taken to UT Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. The Civic had been reported stolen on Wednesday.
The driver of the Charger, identified as Nathaniel Howard, 28, ran from the scene. It turned out that Howard was wanted for federal gun charges and was trying to avoid arrest. He and his passenger were taken to UT Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. Howard will be turned over to federal authorities when he is released.