Teen was gunned down in failed robbery

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Shani Harris

The victim of a fatal shooting early this week in West Knoxville was trying to rob a man when he was gunned down, according to police. 

Jaqwan Gillette, 18 of Knoxville, was killed during a failed robbery attempt that ended with a shootout Monday night in a parking lot on Sutherland Avenue. 

His alleged accomplice, a 20-year-old woman named Shani Harris, also of Knoxville, has been jailed on charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and vandalism.

The shootout took place about 8:17 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of the Dollar General at 3275 Sutherland Avenue, according to arrest warrants filed by Knoxville Police Department Officer Chas Terry. 

Police officers responding to a ”shots fired” call found Gillette’s body at the nearby Sutherland Flats apartment complex.

It turned out that two cars, one of which contained Gillette and Harris, had pulled into the Dollar General just prior to the E-911 call. Their occupants were allegedly meeting to conduct a marijuana transaction.

Gillette and Harris, however, had no intention of buying or selling any weed. Rather, they planned to rob the other person, an 18-year-old Sevierville man, according to court records.

“They fired on the victim of the attempted robbery, who then returned fire. Gillette was shot at some point in that exchange of gunfire,” a KPD spokesperson said Thursday.

Investigator Terry said that information was found “on a co-defendant’s phone outlining the plan for a robbery and the defendant (Harris) admitted to firing at the victim as he fled.”

Harris also told police that she’d ditched her firearm after the shootout, Terry said. 

Jaqwan Gillette 

The victim of the alleged robbery attempt hasn’t been charged, records show.

Gillette was the brother of 15-year-old Jamarion “Lil Dada” Gillette, who died  March 11, 2021, after he was found suffering from a gunshot wound in South Knoxville  (see https://www.hardknoxwire.com/teen-killings-put-knoxvilles-soul-on-trial/). “Lil Dada” Gillette was one of six students from Austin-East Magnet High School who were killed by gunfire in 2021. 

Gillette’s killing was the eighth homicide in Knoxville thus far in 2022, according to KPD records. By way of comparison, there had been no fewer than 15 homicides as of March 28 of last year, which was the city’s bloodiest year on record.

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

Published on April 1, 2022.