How A Domestic Dispute Can Quickly Turn Violent

By: Rob Pratt
By: Rob Pratt

Hamblen County, Russellville (WVLT) – The Halloween night shooting in Hamblen County reminded us how quickly a domestic dispute can turn violent.

The potential for harm is always on the mind of police who respond to calls.

Officers said it's the last call they want to hear from dispatch and even though it could have been much worse, the shots ringing out will be a painful reminder for everyone involved.

Meadow Springs in Hamblen County's Russellville Community is as peaceful and quiet as any neighborhood in East Tennessee, but on Halloween night, it was a crime scene complete with a bullet-ridden sheriff's car.

"Shots fired! Shots fired! 911," yelled frantic voices on the 911 Dispatch tape.

It's that sudden potential for violence that worries those who wear the badge.

Domestic calls come in daily, but those in law enforcement say there's nothing routine about them.

When emotions run as high as they did in Russellville, the potential is deadly.

"If they are willing to do harm to someone they supposedly love, certainly they don't hesitate to take out their aggression on the officer when they arrive on the scene,” said Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnigan.

"Domestic violence doesn't just happen,” said Jim Milner, a licensed professional counselor. “I think that part of the challenge is to show them it's really a process, something that's occurred over time."

Milner works closely with people who find themselves in abusive relationships, but how does tension between family members lead to bullets fired at officers?

The arrival of police can take the tension to a whole new level.

"A lot of times the man takes it out on the woman, saying, ‘this is the ultimate betrayal, you've now exposed me to everyone else, you're to keep everything secret,’" Milner said.

Even though police presence may appear to inflame the problem in some cases, the people we talked with do not want to discourage you from calling when you need help.

As in the Hamblen County case, calling 911 may save your life.


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