Sevierville resident describes scene during fatal officer-involved shooting following armed robbery, car chase

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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have identified two of the three people they say were involved in an armed robbery that led to a deadly officer-involved shooting.

Mitchell Gagel, 23, and Tiffany Leshay Mynatt, 38, were passengers in an SUV that led Sevierville Police on a chase that began on the Parkway just before 9 p.m. Thursday.

A Sevierville officer received minor injuries in a collision that happened near the 600 block of the Parkway as police pursued the suspects.

TBI said the suspect vehicle became disabled near Bluegrass Road, where officers asked the three occupants to step out of the vehicle.

According to a TBI release, the situation escalated and “for reasons still under investigation, officers fired shots, striking all three individuals.” The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver has been identified as Joshua Hoffpauir, 33, of Sevierville. 

Gagel and Mynatt were treated at a local hospital.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is handling the crash investigation. TBI agents are still gathering evidence and the investigation remains ongoing.

Bullet holes are seen in the walls of a home off Bluegrass Drive in Sevierville following an officer-involved shooting. One suspect died, two others were injured.

Witness finds bullet holes in home

Where the chase ended on Bluegrass Road was with yards of homes.

TJ didn’t want to use his full name, but he told 6 On Your Side Reporter Kirstie Crawford everything he saw Thursday night.

“To see that end up in my front yard is still and odd question of how they ended up here of all places,” TJ said.

TJ said he first heard police sirens coming fast from a distance.

By the time he could get outside, the SUV, from what he could tell, had already hit spike strips and then crashed into a ditch.

TJ said at that point he could tell the driver wanted to keep going, but the car was unable to move.

The rest happened in a matter of seconds.

“(Police) started yelling, ‘Get out the car, get out the car,’ and immediately went from that to, ‘Put it down, put it down, put it down,’ and started firing,” TJ said.

As soon as he heard gunshots, TJ immediately yelled at his family to get down, who were still in the living room.

He guessed dozens of shots were fired.

“They fired so many shots in the quick of time, it sounded like a machine gun going off it was so many shots fired on it,” TJ said.

Unfortunately, some of those shots did end up hitting TJ’s home.

Fortunately, the bullets didn’t make it through the home’s brick facade.

TJ said he couldn’t tell what happened to make the officers want to shoot, but he claims he did see a gun on the ground after the fact.

He counted at least 10 officers at the scene initially. He was surprised none of them were injured.

“It’s a miracle none of the cops were hit with as many bullets that were shot, and the many directions of crossfire that it was shot on,” TJ said.

TJ said although the incident ended with a death of a suspect, he was just glad innocent people weren’t hurt.

“Thankfully none of our police officers were injured. And I hate for them, they were doing their job and I know it’s going to be hard on them,” TJ said.

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