Slain man tried to rob home, cops say

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Police on Wednesday identified the victim of Knoxville’s 22nd homicide of the year.

They also said the District Attorney General’s office will have to decide if anyone deserves to stand trial for his death.

The victim, Alexander Skelton, 31, of Knoxville, was shot and killed while apparently trying to rob a house in the Lonsdale neighborhood, said Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Scott Erland.

KPD officers were dispatched to a home at 1100 Vermont Avenue about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday to check out a report that someone had been shot, Erland said.

They found Skelton inside the home, dead from at least one gunshot wound. Several people who were at the scene were taken to KPD headquarters in the Public Safety Building so they could be interviewed by investigators from the Violent Crimes Unit.

“Based on that investigation, it is believed that Mr. Skelton had entered the residence and demanded money while brandishing a firearm. He was then shot by one of the residents, who remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation,” Erland said. 

He continued: “No charges have been filed at this stage of the investigation, which remains ongoing. Upon the completion of the investigation, which is being conducted by the KPD Violent Crimes Unit, the file will be turned over to the Knox County District Attorney’s Office to make a determination regarding prosecution.”

Since Jan. 1 of this year, there have been at least 22 slayings in the city, all of them involving firearms. There have been at least five more homicides in the unincorporated areas of Knox County under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office, all of them also involving guns.

There were 37 homicides in Knoxville in 2020, two more than the previous high of 35 in 1998.

 Local leaders have vowed to fight the ongoing bloodshed. Led by Mayor Indya Kincannon, the City has earmarked over $1 million for anti-violence programs and hired Cities United, a nonprofit organization based in Louisville, Ky. that focuses on leveraging local resources to bring peace to inner city streets.

Only hours after Skelton’s death, City Council approved $200,000 in new spending to help combat street violence. 

 Council members unanimously approved a resolution authorizing Kincannon to enter into a $150,000 agreement with the Change Center to support youth enrichment services this summer and support Empower Knox and other City initiatives.

The Change Center, often touted as one of the most effective anti-violence programs in the City, had been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020 but reopened last week.

Council members also unanimously agreed to contribute up to $50,000 to the United Way of Greater Knoxville’s Direct Neighborhood Fund to support violence interruption activities led by local non-profit organizations. 

Police at the scene of Tuesday’s homicide in Lonsdale. Source: KPD

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

Published on June 3, 2021.