KPD makes busts on Strip


Twenty-five hours worth of “enhanced patrol efforts” by the Knoxville Police Department on the Cumberland Avenue “Strip” yielded several arrests for illegal drugs and firearms over the weekend.

“We have been conducting enhanced patrols throughout the city since around mid-February,” KPD spokesperson Scott Erland said Monday. “Those enhanced patrols are entirely proactive in nature and not driven by calls for service. The focus area of those enhanced patrols shifts on a daily basis based on crime trends and the prevalence of violent crime and drug activity.”

If the weekend’s haul was any indication, KPD’s analysts have figured out how to hit a bullseye with their crime projections.

The first arrest came about 11:15 p.m. Friday when officers approached a Honda sedan in the 1900 block of Cumberland Avenue and smelled marijuana when they started talking to the two occupants.  A search of the car turned up two handguns plus “a bag containing various narcotics, a quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia,” Erland said. 

One of the car’s occupants, 26-year-old Dustin Dodgen, claimed the illegal items and was arrested on several counts of misdemeanor drug possession and unlawful possession of a weapon. 

An hour and fifteen minutes later, officers spotted a man they knew to be wanted on several outstanding warrants at Spicy’s, 1931 Cumberland Ave., and took him into custody. Joshua Welcome, 24, had outstanding warrants for domestic assault and felony evading; he also had heroin and marijuana on him when he was arrested, according to Erland.

The next incident happened 30 minutes later (1 a.m. Saturday) when the cops spotted an unoccupied Dodge Charger sitting at a gas pump at the Shell gas station at 2001 Cumberland Ave. Nobody admitted to knowing who the car belonged to and the officers ended up calling for a K-9 unit to check out the apparently abandoned vehicle.

“The K-9 alerted positive on the vehicle and a search of the vehicle was conducted,” Erland said. “That search revealed a loaded handgun as well as an Oxycodone tablet. The handgun and narcotic were confiscated.”

KPD’s run of good luck continued the next night.

Officers spied a man sitting in the passenger’s seat of a Nissan Maxima that was parked outside the Starbucks Coffee at 2021 Cumberland Ave at 12:15 a.m. Sunday. Now, sitting in front of a coffee shop normally isn’t a problem — except when it’s after midnight and the business is closed.

The man, identified as J’Marea Pirtle, 21, had both a semiautomatic handgun and an AR-15 in his possession. A K-9 unit was called to the scene and soon led the officers to an undisclosed quantity of “presumed heroin,” which in turn led to Pirtle’s arrest on charges of possessing a firearm with the intent to go armed as well as schedule I drug violations, according to Erland. 

Around the same time as their encounter with Pirtle, officers noticed a man sitting in the same parking lot. This time the individual was behind the wheel of a Ford Expedition, and this time he didn’t stick around to be confronted and searched. When he saw officers approaching, the man ran away from the Ford and led the cops on a foot chase that ended near a fraternity house on Lake Ave.

The man was identified as 18-year-old Jahvionte Bray, who had an outstanding warrant for aggravated assault, Erland said.

“Bray, who had an outstanding warrant for aggravated assault, was found in possession of three key fobs to different vehicles, including the white Ford Expedition, which was reported as stolen,” Erland said. “Inside of the vehicle, officers also located a loaded AR-15 and an amount of presumed marijuana. Bray was taken into custody for the outstanding warrant, theft of property and additional charges.”

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at  

Published on May 18, 2021