Mall gunfight under investigation


Police are searching for suspects in the wake of a very public gunfight that erupted Tuesday evening in the parking lot of West Town Mall. 

The bullets apparently started flying when three men met to arrange the purchase of a cell phone outside the Belk department store, according to police. Two of the men, however, tried to rob the third at gunpoint and soon realized they’d caught a tiger by the proverbial tail.

Officers from the Knoxville Police Department were dispatched to the mall at 8:30 p.m., said KPD spokesperson Scott Erland. They came upon a pair of crashed vehicles and a man armed with a handgun whom they immediately detained. 

“The male victim stated that he met two male subjects in the parking lot to sell a cell phone,” Erland stated. “The victim said that during that exchange the two subjects held him at gunpoint in an attempt to rob him. One suspect reportedly fired a shot, at which time the victim accelerated his vehicle, struck a parked vehicle and then crashed into the rear of the suspect vehicle. The victim then fired shots at the suspects before they fled on foot from the area.”

The victim — who wasn’t publicly identified — wasn’t injured, Erland continued, and a search of the area didn’t turn up anyone who had been shot or otherwise harmed.

The search also didn’t turn up the two suspects. 

The incident is being investigated by the KPD Violent Crimes Unit, he said.

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is urged by KPD to contact East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers at, by phone at 1-800-222-8477, or via the P3 Tips mobile app.

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at

Published on September 23, 2021.