MOUNTAIN CITY — The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department has released more information into the suspected murder-suicide that killed 31-year-old Heather Buchanan and her daughter, 6-year-old Alexis Buchanan. A man, Terry Mark Johnson, was also shot in the abdomen and hand. He remains hospitalized and has not yet been interviewed by investigators.
“We are waiting to talk to him and we are waiting on the preliminary results of the autopsy,” Sheriff Mike Reece said Monday. He said the pathologists plan to do an autopsy on the child as quickly as possible.
Reece said the officers responded to 1235 McEwen Road in the Forge Creek Community on Saturday night after a call to 911 reported a man was shot. Reece said Johnson was able to get away from his residence and made it to a neighbor’s residence, where 911 was called.
Officers began to investigate the shooting, Reece said. They were walking toward the scene of the shooting in the dark. When the headlights from the ambulance transporting Johnson illuminated one of the officers, shots were fired at the officer and in the direction of the ambulance. The ambulance was able to get away from the scene.
A news report said the officer was pinned down, taking fire from Johnson’s suspected shooter. The officer said he saw a woman on the porch. The woman was later identified as Heather Buchanan. The officer was able to make the call to 911 for assistance. Other officers arrived and were able to get the pinned-down officer to safety.
Tactical teams were used to approach the residence. When they reached the scene, they discovered the woman had fled into the woods.
Neighbors confirmed that Buchanan had taken her 6-year-old daughter into the woods with her.
“We didn’t realize she had her daughter until we talked to the neighbor,” Reece said Sunday. “That’s when we called the helicopter.”
The Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter assisted in the search for Buchanan and her child. The helicopter had to end its support when fog moved into the area.
The sheriff’s department news release said “officers exhausted all available means of locating the suspect and the child.”
At 9 a.m. Sunday, officers were called back to McEwen Road, where two bodies had been discovered. The bodies were identified as Buchanan and her daughter.
Reece said two guns were found on the scene. One was a Smith and Wesson .38-caliber pistol, which was empty. The other was a western-style .22-caliber pistol, which held nine rounds. One round was left in the gun.
The .38-caliber had mud in the barrel, as if Heather Buchanan had fallen in the woods and the gun went into the dirt. Reece said it appears both the mother and daughter were shot with the .22-caliber. Reece suspects the .38-caliber was used in the shooting with his officer.
Reece said Heather Buchanan had an extensive record in his jail on drug, theft and driving charges. He said she had no prior history of violence.
Buchanan had also been held in the Carter County Jail, and had just been released into the custody of Johnson County officers after serving a 168-day sentence on Criminal Court violations.
Reece said he believed Buchanan’s mother had cared for Alexis while her mother was serving her Carter County sentence.
“This has taken a toll on all of us,” Reece said of Alexis’ death. “It is one thing to see the death of an adult, but to see a 6-year-old lying there is something else.”
“I think we did all we could do,” Reece said.