Carjacking turns into latest homicide

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Jimmy Houston Beaver

A motorcycle rider who was run down by a carjacking suspect early this month has died, police said Monday. 

The death of Berlon Williams, 44, of Knoxville, brought the number of homicides that have taken place within the city limits so far this year to 23. 

Williams had been fighting for life at the University of Tennessee Medical Center since he was struck by a stolen car in South Knoxville on June 4. 

The man who allegedly struck Williams, 39-year-old Jimmy Houston Beaver, has been held in the Knox County jail in lieu of a $20,000 appearance bond on charges of carjacking, vehicular assault and aggravated robbery since the wreck. 

The charges against Beaver hadn’t been upgraded as of Monday and probably won’t be changed until the District Attorney General’s office decides how they wish to proceed with the case.

Beaver is accused of using a knife to scare away the 19-year-old driver of a BMW sedan while it was stopped at the traffic light at Cumberland Avenue and 11th Street around 8:42 p.m. June 4, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Scott Erland.

“After leaving the scene, the suspect continued to drive recklessly until colliding with a motorcycle rider on Chapman Highway near E. Martin Mill Pike. The 44-year-old motorcycle rider was ejected from the vehicle and transported to the UT Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. Witnesses on scene, including an off-duty KPD officer and a UTMC doctor, rendered medical aid on the victim until medical personnel could arrive,” Erland said.

KPD officers spotted Beaver trying to walk away from the wreck scene and he was later identified by the carjacking victim, Erland said.

This year is on track to be the bloodiest since Knoxville began keeping crime statistics. Since Jan. 1, there have been at least 23 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. 

There were 37 homicides in Knoxville in 2020, more than the previous high of 35 in 1998. At this time last year, there had been only 16 homicides.

Williams was the first homicide victim of the year to be killed by a weapon other than a firearm, records show. 

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

Published on June 22, 2021