KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Police are investigating the death of a man found shot and killed at Malcolm Martin Park in Northwest Knoxville. CAC workers found his body off a path close to Beardsley Farm around 8:45 a.m. Thursday.
Police say the victim is a black man in his mid 50s. They are working to contact the next of kin before releasing his name.
A murder scene wasn't what Will Trout expected to see on his trip to the park.
"I'm kind of appalled - that's kind of scary that that could happen. That there could be a dead body somewhere where I feel completely safe," said Trout.
An out-of-state group was heading to do community service with Trout's missionary group Thursday morning:
"They were going to go do farm work and help with the farm. And there were police cars and they didn't know what to do, so they went back to the church," said Trout.
Police found two Food City bags filled with groceries near the man's body, which he'd purchased shortly before he died.
The manager at the Food City on nearby Western Avenue said he worked with officers and discovered the man had last used his value card there Tuesday morning to buy hot dogs, buns and bread, but said different groceries were found with him Thursday morning.
Virginia Holt often cuts through the park on her way home and said the whole thing scares her.
"Well, somebody could be hiding, you know? Jump out on me or something. That's why I feel that all these bushes and woods they've got here should be cleared out and cleaned out and that way, they wouldn't have anywhere to hide," said Holt.
Tina Davis is worried, too.
"I wouldn't walk through there myself. Because it's closed off, it's woody. Somebody could be hiding there. You're in 2013 these days and it's not safe," said Davis.
Police don't have a motive yet, but said it appears this was an isolated incident and people should still feel safe at the park.
Officers said the man's body had been in the park for less than 24 hours before he was found. Coroners are doing an autopsy to determine an exact time of death.
If anyone in the area heard or witnesses any suspicious activity near Malcolm Martin Park within the past 24 hours, they are asked to call the Knoxville Police Department's crime information line at (865) 215-7212. Callers can remain anonymous.