Fine lines, evil octads and wooded hoods



It seems that some people really, really don’t like cops.

Some of them stage protests with lots of signs and the chanting of slogans. Some of them sign up to speak at public meetings. Others draw up petitions, or run for office, or even just sit on their butts and post endless screeds on Facebook that absolutely no one reads who isn’t employed by the Department of Homeland Security. 

There are also people who are way more gutsy than that, however — way, way, WAY more gutsy, in fact. So gutsy, in fact, they serve as reminders that the line between courage and sheer idiocy is often as thin as cheap toilet paper. 

Imagine the following setting: It was around 2 p.m. on June 4, a Friday, and things were pretty normal in the South Knoxville neighborhood near Moody Avenue containing the Southside Flats apartment complex. It was a fairly nice, even bucolic, day. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, kids were playing, and a bunch of Knox County officers were trying to catch a fleeing suspect who was being sought on federal drug charges.

Deputy John Sharp was one of the many officers involved in the chase, which ended up heading into the Southside Flats complex in a furious display of flashing blue lights, piercing sirens and rumbling V-8 engines.  It was while Sharp and his fellow officers were trying (unsuccessfully) to somehow end the fugitive’s flight that he noticed the black 2007 Ford Fusion in the parking lot with a 20-year-old man in the driver’s seat whom we shall henceforth dub “Mr. Guts.”

To Sharp’s disgust, Mr. Guts was “hanging his arm out the window appearing to cheer the fleeing suspect on” as the high-speed parade wound its way through the parking lot before finally heading back out toward Chapman Highway, according to reports.

 Mr. Guts and his Fusion followed, apparently intent on ensuring that the cops knew exactly what he thought of them.

As Sharp turned back onto Chapman Highway, he spotted Mr. Guts tearing down an alley in front of the apartment complex at an estimated 55 mph in an effort to catch up to the chase. A chase which, as far anyone could tell, he had absolutely no stake in (other than what appeared to be a deeply held conviction that the cops should lose).

For the nest 10 to 15 minutes, Mr. Guts proceeded to shadow the pursuit. As the numerous vehicles raced around South Knoxville, the officers had to deal with Mr. Guts “interjecting himself into the pursuit at various points” while driving up to 85 mph and even cutting off several patrol cars.

Sharp eventually said “enough is enough” and broke off from the pursuit to conduct a traffic stop on the Ford Fusion due to “egregious driving behavior, his extreme disregard for other motorists’ safety, and the fact that his driving behavior was impeding the ability of officers to safely continue the pursuit.”

Sharp apparently didn’t waste any time interrogating Mr. Guts or even writing him citations, as there was still a federal fugitive to deal with. He instead made sure that he could positively identify him, physically confiscated his driver’s license and then re-joined the chase.

The Fusion’s 20-year old, white, male driver wasn’t the subject of a use-of-force report, a Taser report, a pepper spray report, a nightstick report, an accidental sodomy-by-Oompah-Loompah report, a firearms use report, or even a basic medical report. Heck, it’s not even clear from the records if he even got so much as a reckless driving citation (although charges can be filed later against the Gutsiest Idiot in South Knoxville on that particular day in June.)


A 46-year-old building contractor told police that he was robbed by the cast of a Quentin Tarantino film while working on some West Knoxville apartments a couple of weeks ago.

The guy called E911 from the Pilot station at 8541 Middlebrook Pike to report the alleged  robbery. He said that he’d been doing contract work at an apartment complex on nearby Copperwood Lane and had gone by there looking for a specific individual (presumably the owner/manager) because he was owed money. 

Here’s where things start to get a little …. vague. The contractor was apparently wandering around the complex or something, asking passersby if they’d seen the individual he was searching for. An “unknown person” (no description of any sort provided) told him that the man he had wanted was in “apartment 1150,” so the contractor innocently moseyed over to the unit in question.

When our protagonist reached the apartment he knocked and was apparently unsurprised when someone yelled at him to come inside. Upon stepping over the threshold, however, he found himself confronted with no fewer than eight bad guys, all of whom immediately pointed guns at him (not seven, not nine, but precisely eight baddies, none of whom appeared to also be carrying a Holy Hand Grenade). Our hapless hero then found himself with the barrel of an AR-15 pressed against his head and, deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, turned over the $1,200 in cash he was carrying. 

The police report on this incident didn’t mention much else in the way of detail, even though the alleged victim claimed to know the name of at least one of these shadowy, underworld figures. It doesn’t appear that a SWAT team soon descended upon the apartment or that any kind of a manhunt ensued for the octad of evil. Also, at no time in the last few weeks has the Sheriff’s Office asked the public to beware of a gang of eight heavily armed  thugs ambushing law-abiding citizens from the safety of apartments hideaways. Although, to be fair, such a scenario could make a good book, movie or other work of fiction….

Be careful out there, folks. 


As a general rule, when people discuss “street corner drug sales” they are referring to the urban practice of selling dope in the open on literal street corners in the inner city. Gangs have found this to be as successful tactic, as both the geography and demographic characteristics of high-crime urban areas make it unlikely that such operations can be shut down for long. 

Just because such a strategy works for, say, Black gang members in a Chicago housing project does not, however, mean that it’s going to be successful for white dealers standing at a rural intersection in East Tennessee.

Yup. That’s exactly what some entrepreneurial pharmacists in Knox County decided to do recently. Rather than trying to work from any of Knoxville’s street corners in the neighborhoods of Lonsdale or Walter P. Taylor Homes (which are admittedly quite crowded already) a small group of dudes apparently decided to try their luck a bit further south. So, they set up their stakes at the intersection of Brown Road and Berry Road in South Knox County near Knob Creek, some woods and a tractor shed stuffed full of, well, tractors. 

Seriously. Here is a picture of the bustlin,’ hustlin’ street corner of Brown and Berry:

Photo of the wooded hood in South Knoxville, courtesy of Google.

After three days of phone calls from people complaining of “individuals standing at this exact street corner selling narcotics,” the Sheriff’s Office sent out an officer at 5:30 p.m. June 9 and encountered a 36-year-old man nonchalantly hanging out in his favorite hood/forest. A search of his pockets turned up two separate wads of cash totaling $803 plus 1.81 grams of meth and 1.31 grams of heroin, all of it prepackaged and ready for resale.

The suspect was arrested on drug charges, of course. As for the stretch of roadway itself, only time will tell if it will soon fall out of the crosshairs of criminals or will instead be featured one day in a gangster country-rap song by the secret, designer DNA grandsires of Carrie Underwood and Ice-T.

Tales of the Scruffy City is compiled from public records provided on request by the Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and other government agencies. We do not identify the citizens who appear in these reports in order to protect their privacy. Many of those who appear in police reports are guilty of nothing more than having a bad day, while even those who are formally accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Tales of the Scruffy City is Copyright 2021 by Hard Knox Wire.

J.J. Stambaugh may be reached at 

Published on June 23, 2021