KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A man was running near downtown Knoxville last Friday when he was struck, reportedly, by a BB pellet, according to Knoxville police reports.
Ron Rayho said he was training for the upcoming Expo 10k around 7 p.m. Friday, wanting to run the exact course.
Around 8 p.m., Rayho was running through Old City, where people were outside enjoying food and drinks, and was getting close to his car near Central and 5th avenues when he heard what sounded like gunshots.
“Car goes by. Hear what I thought could have been a gunshot. Little ‘pop, pop, pop.’ But it took me about 10 seconds to register, ‘was that a gunshot?'” he wondered.
He said he’s not a runner. He’s “a lifter that runs.”
“Anything over, for me, about four to five miles, is a painful grind. And again, I didn’t know if it was my mind playing a trick on me. Was I imagining that I heard gunshots, was I imagining that I actually had been hit in the side,” Rayho said.
Rayho said he continued to run after hearing the pops until he reached his car, which he said was just a couple hundred yards away.
When he reached his car, he lifted up his shirt and saw the wound.
“Police think it might’ve been a pellet gun, but I’ve heard quite a few different things,” Rayho said.
He said he is usually pretty aware of his surroundings when he runs. He doesn’t run with headphones in, he listens and looks for cars and pays attention to bicyclists and other pedestrians.
“My focus was on looking to see if there was gonna be a car on 5th Avenue that I can run across but not get squashed,” Rayho said.
The sun was still out around 8 p.m. last Friday. Rayho said he even researched when sunset was going to be, so he wouldn’t run in the dark.
He thought he was already aware.
Christina Adkins, media coordinator for 865 Running, said runners need to be extra aware at all times.
She said runners need to be seen during any time of the day. Runners should always wear bright colors.
Adkins said if it’s still dark outside, runners should wear a safety vest, flashing lights, or both.
She also said runners should not wear headphones in both ears.
“If you are running near the roads, keep an ear bud out. That way you can hear traffic, or people coming from behind you or even cycylists coming besides you. Just so you can be completely aware of you’re surroundings,” Adkins said.
She also said if you’re running on the road or along the road, run against traffic so drivers can see you.
Adkins said running in groups or with a partner is also important for safety. She said that goes especially for women, but it’s important for men as well.
“Say if you get injured, it’s nice to have someone their with you to either help call someone or calll for help, carry you, throw you on their back, or even just to stay there with you until help arrives,” Adkins said.
Rayho said he usually runs with a friend, but that didn’t work out last Friday. He also said he’s actually glad he didn’t run with someone else because they could’ve been shot.
He said he almost didn’t report the incident to police because he wasn’t severely injured, nor did he think it was an actual gunshot that hit him.
Rayho said he talked with a friend who is a police officer. His friend urged him to report it.
“You want the safety of others. If others were there, they may have saw it or they could be exposed to it if they’re in the Old City,” Rayho said.
Adkins said even though Rayho could’ve been struck by a BB pellet, an attack is an attack and it happened on a running course.
Adkins saw Rayho’s Facebook post about the incident and she immediately shared it to her running groups and the executive director at the Knoxville Track Club.
“No matter what it is. Say if a kid throws a stone at you on the course or on the sidewalk, (you report it and say) ‘hey, this is an issue on the greenway’ because other people run and walk with their kids in this area,” Adkins said.
Knoxville police said they are still investigating the incident. According to the police report and Rayho, he didn’t catch any details about the suspect or suspect vehicle.
Rayho said he thanks God that the incident wasn’t worse.