UPDATED: Another day, another death

Knoxville Police Department officers converge at the scene of a double shooting Wednesday. Source: KPD

Yet another life was lost to gun violence on Knoxville’s streets Wednesday when two people were shot in the parking lot of an apartment complex, killing a 20-year-old woman. 

The shooting meant that, as of Wednesday, there have been at least 29 homicides in the city so far this year.

The victim was identified by police as  Martaysha Flack, 20, of Knoxville.

Knoxville Police Department officers were dispatched to a reported shooting at the Holston Oaks Apartments on Riverside Drive in East Knoxville about 5 p.m., according to KPD spokesperson Scott Erland. 

“Upon arrival at the scene, a female victim was found inside of a vehicle in the parking lot suffering from at least one apparent gunshot, while a male victim was also located on scene suffering from at least one gunshot wound,” Erland said.

“The female victim was pronounced deceased at the scene, while the male victim was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries,” he said.

Wednesday’s slaying was the second homicide in five days and the fifth to occur this month. 

This year is on track to be the bloodiest since Knoxville began keeping crime statistics. 

Since Jan. 1, there have been at least 29 slayings in the city, plus at least five more homicides in the unincorporated areas of Knox County under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office. That’s a 52 percent increase from this time last year, when 19 people had been killed as of late July.

Knoxville has been averaging about one homicide a week so far this year, which is nearly two-and-one-half times more than the 22 slayings per year that’s been the average over the past decade.

The unprecedented surge in killings began last year, when the number of homicides increased a remarkable 72 percent from 2019.

Knoxville is far from alone. Violent crimes have been on the rise across the nation since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, and authorities have blamed the spike in crime partially on the widespread societal disruption the coronavirus has caused. The pandemic has also been accompanied by a surge in alcohol and drug abuse, which seems to have fueled a rise in both the number of fatal overdoses and the kind of gang warfare that accompanies drug trafficking. 

As has so often been the case this year when it comes to inner city violence, police didn’t appear to have many leads Wednesday.

“Major Crimes Unit investigators, Crime Lab personnel and the Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene to begin the investigation, which is in the preliminary stages,” said Erland. “There are no suspects in custody and no suspect information is available at this time.”

Erland said that anyone with information relevant to the investigation is urged to contact East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477, online at www.easttnvalleycrimestoppers.org or via the free mobile app P3 Tips.

Tipsters will remain anonymous and be eligible to receive a cash reward.

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com 

Published on July 29, 2021