Johnson City Police Department Sgt. Andy Hodges said Saturday that Christopher Brown, 32, 415 E. Holston Ave., was arrested after a three-hour standoff on Interstate 26. Brown, who Hodges said is connected to two robberies in Piney Flats, climbed a light pole and held a knife to his neck. JCPD officers stopped traffic at Exit 19 and on State of Franklin Road while negotiating with Brown.
The events leading to the standoff began a few hours earlier, Hodges said, when Sullivan County deputies responded to a robbery at Dollar Tree, 114 Allison Road, at about 3 p.m.
A press release from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said a man came into the store, put some items into a shopping cart and headed to the register. He handed the clerk a note that said to give him all the money, and pulled up his shirt to reveal a gun in his waistband, the release said.
A press release from the JCPD said that about 30 minutes later, officers responded to a report of a robbery at Subway, 6591 Bristol Highway. The two agencies began working together and found the suspected vehicle near the intersection of State of Franklin and Browns Mill roads at about 6:45 p.m.
The driver, who police later identified as Brown, tried to flee from officers, but crashed while going up the interstate entrance ramp.
He ran away from the crash, the JCPD news release said, and positioned himself on the bridge with a knife to his throat, climbing the light pole at one point. Hodges said officers negotiated with Brown for three hours while he refused to drop his weapon, but he relented after 10 p.m. and was taken to the hospital and treated for “superficial” injuries.
He was later arrested and taken to the Sullivan County Detention Center.
Because the robberies spanned two jurisdictions, the JCPD changed him with one count of aggravated robbery, being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, theft of property and possession of stolen property. Hodges said he couldn’t speak to Brown’s criminal history, but did confirm that Brown had been arrested by the JCPD earlier this year on suspicion of aggravated robbery, theft of a motor vehicle over $1,000, possession of a prohibited weapon, driving on a revoked license and possession of stolen property under $1,000.
Brown will be arraigned Monday morning in Sullivan County General Sessions Court.