Knoxville bloodshed continues

Police at the scene of Thursday night’s fatal shooting in East Knoxville. Source: KPD

For the third time in four days, the sharp crack of gunfire was followed first by the wailing of sirens and then by the wailing of grief.

Yet another person was fatally shot Thursday night in the same East Knoxville neighborhood that had seen two other slayings since Monday. 

The victim, identified only as a 28-year-old male, was pronounced dead shortly after he was taken to the Universe of Tennessee Medical Center, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Scott Erland.

Police units rushed to an apartment complex at 2239 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to investigate a report that someone had been shot about 8:30 p.m., Erland said.

The officers found the unnamed man lying in the parking lot with a gunshot wound, and witnesses told them a suspect had fled the scene in a dark-colored BMW.

“Shortly after the shooting, responding officers located the suspect vehicle and stopped it at the Weigel’s on Summit Hill. The occupants of the vehicle were detained for further investigation by the Violent Crimes Unit,” Erland said.

One of the BMW’s occupants, 57-year-old Ralphelle James, was identified as the shooter and charged with first-degree murder and firearm-related charges, he said.

The victim of Thursday night’s shooting was the 20th homicide in Knoxville so far this year. At the current rate, Knoxville is well on its way to shattering last year’s record-high number of 37 men, women and children slain. 

The first of this week’s killings took place Monday afternoon when 41-year-old Muhammad Allen was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds in his pickup truck on Louise Avenue.

Only 27 hours later and four blocks away from where Allen died, 25-year-old Patricia Hall was shot to death by her older sister, Dayeshia Hall, 32, during an argument on Sunset Avenue.

In addition to the 20 homicides in the city limits of Knoxville so far this year, there have been five killings in the unincorporated areas of the county under the jurisdiction of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

In every one of those 25 homicides the victim was slain by a gun, according to police.

Police have asked for the public’s help in solving Allen’s killing. Anyone with information is urged to contact East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers. Tips can be submitted by phone at 1-800-222-8477, online at or through the free mobile app, P3 Tips. 

Those who submit tips through Crime Stoppers are guaranteed to remain anonymous and are also eligible to receive a cash reward if that tip results in the identification or arrest of those responsible.

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at 

Published on May 21, 2021