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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
jthompson@johnsoncitypress.com
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Wild ride: Pursuit ends with numerous charges

August 3rd, 2011 10:40 pm by John Thompson

ELIZABETHTON — A man who had previously been charged with attempted first-degree murder is facing two charges of attempted second-degree murder following a wild pursuit that covered three counties and ended in south Johnson City on Tuesday night.
In addition to those charges, Travis Grover Richardson, 29, 1180 Dry Creek Road, also was charged with aggravated assault, evading arrest, reckless endangerment and vandalism and was served with an outstanding arrest warrant charging him with failure to appear on attempted first-degree murder charge.
Tuesday’s incident began when Elizabethton Police Department Officer Matthew S. Taylor responded to the IGA Supermarket in the Betsytowne Shopping Center, U.S. Highway 19E, shortly after 8 p.m. on a complaint about Richardson using counterfeit $100 bills.
Taylor made contact with Richardson at the store. He asked to speak to him, but said Richardson began to walk away.
“I grabbed Mr. Richardson’s arm, he then tried to strike me. Mr. Richardson and I then became involved in a physical altercation,” Taylor wrote in the arrest warrant.
In an effort to end the struggle, Taylor used his Taser, but apparently only one probe made contact with Richardson. He said Richardson broke free and ran across State Line Road with Taylor chasing him.
While the pursuit was going on, Taylor said Richardson turned toward him, swinging a silver knife at Taylor’s chest. He said the knife came within 6 to 12 inches of cutting him. Taylor said Richardson then turned and continued running
Carter County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Mike Little said Richardson ran into a driveway at 1606 State Line Road and confronted resident Mike Shawn Hicks. Hicks said he saw Richardson running toward him with two EPD officers chasing him and became alarmed that his house was unlocked and his small children were swimming in the back yard.
Little said Hicks told him he stepped toward the end of the driveway to assist the officers. Hicks said Richardson got within two feet from him, drew a knife and demanded Hicks give him the keys to his 1994 Jeep Cherokee.
Hicks told Richardson he did not have the keys with him and tried to get away from him. Richardson got in the Cherokee and found the keys in the ignition.
As Hicks was trying to drive out of the driveway, he was blocked by EPD Officer Eric Buck. Taylor said Richardson placed the Jeep in reverse and struck Buck’s vehicle at high speed. The impact moved it enough for Richardson to get back onto State Line Road.
Taylor said he had to jump into a ditch as Richardson attempted to strike him with the vehicle as he was backing out. Sgt. Joy Markland, who also was responding, began pursuit on State Line near Peter Hampton Drive but the Jeep increased speed and began traveling in the opposite lane of travel, toward her car. Markland avoided Richardson, who eventually returned to U.S. 19E.
She was able to catch up, but the Richardson did not stop. Markland continued pursuit was soon joined by other Elizabethton and Carter County units. She said the Jeep continued on U.S. 19E, swerving erratically and driving in the center of both lanes.
It then turned onto Gap Creek Road and then onto Dry Creek Road, where the Elizabethton officers dropped off the pursuit while Carter County deputies continued.
The pursuit then entered Unicoi County. Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Ronnie Adkins said his officers deployed a stop stick on Scioto Road which deflated the Jeep’s right front tire.
Adkins said that while Richardson continued to drive erratically, he was not going at a greatly reduced speed.
Sgt. Greg Copp and other Unicoi County deputies attempted a rolling roadblock to stop Richardson but his cruiser was smashed in the rear by Richardson.
The pursuit finally came to an end, 30 minutes after it had started, in the parking lot of Wood’s Automotive repair shop at 2609 S. Roan, near Tipton-Haynes State Historic Area. The Jeep veered off the right side of the highway into a spin and the back of the Jeep struck two parked cars, a 1995 Mazda pickup truck and 2001 Ford Taurus.
Officers quickly took Richardson into custody. Mathes said Richardson asked why they had not shot him.
Richardson is scheduled to answer the charges filed against him by the EPD in Sessions Court on Sept. 9. Mathes said his department will send its charges against Richardson through a grand jury.
The outstanding attempted first -degree murder charge against Richardson stems from an incident that occurred on Frontage Road in the Okolona section of Carter County on Sept. 24, 2008.
Richardson was subject of a large manhunt after he allegedly broke into an old girlfriend’s residence and stabbed her new boyfriend, Daniel Honeycutt, while he was sleeping. Also in the residence was Richardson’s 6-month-old child. Richardson was captured a day later at the residence of his father.

Press Staff Writer Becky Campbell and Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks contributed to this report.

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