Man killed trying to protect woman

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A man who tried to protect a woman from her abusive boyfriend as the couple argued was instead killed at a North Knoxville apartment complex early Friday morning. 

John Mack, 24, died several hours after he was shot in the head by Roshaun Smith, who was also apparently injured in the altercation.

Smith, 24, was arrested Sunday when he was discharged from the University of Tennessee Medical Center and charged with reckless homicide and domestic assault, police said. 

Only limited information about the case was publicly available over the weekend, but it appears the shooting took place during an altercation between Smith and the mother of his child, a young woman named Renee Chase, according to arrest warrants filed by Knoxville Police Department Investigator Jonathan Harris.

They were fighting at an apartment complex in the 1900 block of Minnesota Avenue just after midnight Friday, and their argument drew the attention of a crowd of onlookers — including Mack — who tried to intervene when it appeared Smith might harm the woman.

“The defendant (Smith) was intoxicated and carrying a handgun,” wrote Investigator Harris. “The defendant verbally threatened Chase and at one point pushed her. Several witnesses to this incident attempted to calm the defendant down and persuade him to go home. The defendant had the handgun in his hand throughout most of this incident and was seen by witnesses waving it around, disregarding the safety of everyone nearby.”

It was at this point that the confrontation turned tragic, according to Harris’s account.

“John Mack was attempting to calm the defendant down when the defendant raised the gun in the air and fired a shot which struck Mack in the side of the head,” the investigator said. “The defendant then fled the scene.”

According to KPD spokesperson Scott Erland, officers were dispatched to the 1900 block of Minnesota Avenue about 12:30 a.m. Friday on a reported shooting.

“Officers arrived on scene and located a man suffering from a gunshot wound,” Erland said. “A second man was found nearby suffering from a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and identified as the primary suspect in the course of the investigation.”

Officials didn’t say how Smith had suffered the gunshot wound. 

Both Mack and Smith were hospitalized, Erland continued, but Mack died from his injuries a few hours later.

Smith was released from the hospital Sunday morning and was immediately arrested on charges of reckless homicide and domestic assault. He also had two unrelated outstanding warrants out of Knox County, Erland said. 

Several witnesses to the shooting were able to identify Smith out of a photo lineup as the man who shot Mack, court records state. 

Smith was being held in the Knox County jail. No bond amount had been set in his case as of late Sunday, records show.

Mack’s slaying marked the 12th homicide this year in the Knoxville city limits.

Published on May 23, 2022.