Officers break down door, save doctor being held hostage

BLAINE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Officers from several departments in Grainger County on Tuesday defused hostage situation at Blaine Medical Center in Blaine.

Fifty-five year-old Verne Long of Morristown held psychologist Dr. John Neece at knife point in an examining room, threatening to cut the doctor and himself, according to the Grainger County Sheriff's Dept.

Officers from the Grainger County Sheriff's Dept., the Blaine Police Dept., the Rutledge Police Dept. and the Bean Station Police Dept. worked to negotiate with Long, but made a forced entry into the room after those negotiations failed.

"We heard some type of altercation in the room where the suspect and the doctor were. We decided we had to make entry, so we forced the door open. There was a sofa and some other office equipment pushed up against the door," said detective Randy Summers.

Officers made their entry in under 10 seconds.

"When we got in, the suspect was down in the floor with his back against the wall with the doctor kind of in his lap and had the doctor in a choke hold," said Summers.

Officers arrested Long. They found one razor blade in his cargo pocket, another taped to his leg with surgical tape, and a pocket knife on the doctor's desk.

Sheriff Scott Layel says officers believe this was a "suicide by cop" attempt. He says Layel appeared to want to end his life, but he didn't want to carry out the deed on his own.

"A lot of brave officers put their lives on the line today to protect the doctor and staff from a life threatening event," said Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel.

The officers took the man into custody and charged him with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, resisting arrest, assault on an officer and vandalism.

Long was taken to a Tennova mental health facility. Once released, Blaine police will take over the investigation.

The doctor received minor injuries.

"We're moving right along. We're doing our own investigation into what went on. Hopefully we'll learn something from this," said Cherokee Health Systems director Bill Berez.


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