Alleged murderer captured

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Vincent Morrison, shown here in a photograph circulated by the Knoxville Police Department.

A Knoxville man accused of killing one woman and shooting at another in two separate incidents was captured Tuesday more than 2,200 miles away from East Tennessee, authorities said. 

Vincent Morrison, 31, was apprehended in Ramona, California, by the U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, officials said Wednesday.

Morrison is charged with second-degree murder for the August 22 death of Aisha Cates in a drive-by shooting in Walter P. Taylor Homes. He’s also accused of shooting at his fiancé six months ago, according to Knoxville Police Department officials.

“Morrison, who was located with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Smokey Mountain Fugitive Task Force, will be extradited back to Knox County imminently,” said KPD spokesperson Scott Erland.

Cates was found lying beside a vehicle near the intersection of McConnell Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue about 3:15 a.m. Aug. 22. Witnesses told police that “an occupant of a vehicle of unknown make and model fired a shot and fled the area at a high rate of speed,” police said.

Erland declined to say how investigators were able to tie Morrison to Cates’s death. He also didn’t say if they knew each other.

Morrison was already wanted on outstanding warrants filed in connection with a March 5 incident in which he allegedly shot at his then-fiancé in North Knoxville. 

“Officers responded to Breda Drive and Bruhin Road and met with the female victim, who stated that she was picking up her fiancé, Vincent Morrison, near Summercrest Way,” Erland explained.

“The victim stated that Morrison was angry and the two got into a verbal altercation,” he continued. “Morrison threatened to shoot her, and he shot at her while she was inside of her vehicle. Morrison also allegedly hit her vehicle with another vehicle before the victim was able to flee the scene. The victim was thankfully not injured during the incident.”

After the March 5 incident, warrants were issued charging Morrison with aggravated assault and vandalism, said Erland.

Cates’s death was the 32nd homicide in Knoxville this year.

Like most cities in the United States, Knoxville has been struggling with rising violent crime rates. There are several ways to look at the numbers, but they all paint the same grim picture: 2021 is on track to be the bloodiest year since Knoxville began keeping crime statistics.  

The unprecedented rise in the homicide rate began when the number of killings shot up from 22 in 2019 to 37 in 2020, a 72 percent increase. Prior to 2020, the bloodiest year on record had been when 35 people were killed in 1998.

Since Jan. 1, there have been at least 32 slayings in the city, plus at least five more homicides in the unincorporated areas of Knox County under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office.

A cash reward of up to $1,000 had been offered in Morrison’s case by East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers, a nonprofit agency that collects anonymous tips from citizens and pays rewards for information about crime. 

Authorities didn’t say whether anyone was eligible to collect the reward in connection with Morrison’s arrest.

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on September 9, 2021.