Suspect in shooting of Tenn. cop arrested after house fire

Ronnie Lucas Wilson, 31, was arrested after starting a fire inside the abandoned house where he was hiding


By Travis Dorman, Matt Lakin and Andrew Capps
Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The man accused of shooting Knoxville Police Department Officer Jay Williams was arrested early Saturday morning in Blount County after starting a fire inside the abandoned house where he was hiding with a female acquaintance, authorities said.

Ronnie Lucas Wilson, 31, of Knoxville, was arrested at the house, near 5500 Calderwood Highway in south Blount County, after he jumped through a window while running from the fire, according to police.

With Wilson was Kristin Denise King, 31, who authorities say was with Wilson during the traffic stop in which he shot Williams. King is being detained as part of the investigation but currently faces no charges.

During a news conference on Saturday following Wilson’s arrest, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch explained the timeline of the search for Wilson and expressed relief that he was finally in custody.

 

JANUARY 13, 2018 RONNIE LUCAS WILSON IN CUSTODY IN BLOUNT COUNTY MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE - Blount County Sheriff James...

Posted by Blount County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, January 13, 2018

“It’s a great weight off of all of us,” Rausch said. “Our concern was that he was going to hurt someone else, and fortunately that didn’t happen.”

Officers with the U.S. Marshals Service received a tip shortly after midnight Saturday that Wilson and King were hiding in an abandoned home on Calderwood Highway in south Blount County near the Little Tennessee River, according to Rausch. Authorities began a door-by-door search for the pair in the area.

Shortly after 3 a.m., officers found Wilson and King at the abandoned house. In a matter of minutes, King ran from the house while a fire, started by Wilson, grew out of control, Rausch said.

Wilson escaped the house by jumping through a window, sustaining non-life-threatening injuries, Rausch said. He was being treated for those injuries, as well as for lung damage caused by smoke, at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Wilson, whose history of violence includes a 2016 shooting and car chase in Claiborne County in which he tossed a gun from his car window, is a member of the white supremacist group known as the Aryan Nations, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

He was arrested in Claiborne County in October 2016 following the chase and agreed to a plea deal in February with a 10-year sentence.

After serving less than five months of his sentence, Wilson was released on probation. A warrant was issued for Wilson in September for violation of probation after he failed a drug test and did not report to his probation officer.

When Officer Williams tried to conduct a traffic stop on Wilson on Washington Pike near Interstate 640 at about 8:30 Thursday night, Wilson fired a gun twice toward Williams before losing control of his car and driving into a ditch, Rausch said.

As Williams got out of his cruiser, Wilson fired at least five more shots, one of which struck Williams in the shoulder, Rausch said. Williams was taken to UT Medical Center and has since been released.

Wilson’s car was found in northeast Knox County on Saturday morning. Agencies including the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were involved in the manhunt.

Rausch said that Williams was in good spirits and was grateful for the effort that went into finding Wilson.

“As soon as I got the word that Mr. Wilson was in custody, I sent that information to Officer Williams,” Rausch said. “He was glad that no one else had been hurt, and he wanted to share, again, his thanks to the community and to the law enforcement community for their great work to find Mr. Wilson.”

Wilson has been charged with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer and is being held on a $750,000 bond. Rausch explained that, as the investigation continues, Wilson is likely to face additional charges.

©2018 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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