Knoxville — The City of Knoxville has added $5,500 to the reward fund for information on the person who attacked Officer B.K. Hardin with a hammer or tire iron as he was directing traffic.
The city joins The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 2, FBI Knoxville and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation by contributing to a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the attacker.
The total reward now stands at $15,000.
Hardin, who was brutally attacked with a hammer on Saturday while directing UT game day traffic, has been released from the hospital after being treated for a fractured skull.
Investigators hope a reward will help them find the person responsible.
The FBI has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. The TBI has offered $2,500. Then the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 2, has contributed $2,000.
An unknown suspect ran up behind Hardin and hit him in the back of a head with a hammer or similar object, then took off on foot. The attack happened at the intersection of 17th Street and Clinch Avenue.
"If somebody runs up behind you, that’s hard to guard against," said Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas. "We actually had two officers at that intersection working and the other officer didn’t see it. He thought it was a crash."
It will likely be several months before he can return to full duty, according to Chief Thomas.
"We are so fortunate that he is doing as well as he is doing," Chief Thomas said.
Investigators are still looking for the suspect in the unprovoked attack. He is described as a white male in his 20s, 5'10" tall and wearing a black hoodie and gray sweatpants.
KPD has interviewed several witnesses but would still like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or saw anyone running, acting nervous or looking suspicious between 7:15 p.m. and 7:40 p.m in the area. You can call 865-215-7212, and you can remain anonymous if you wish.
Chief Thomas said they did interview a person of interest in the attack this weekend, but that person was released.
"This event absolutely does not reflect the Knoxville Community that we are proud to protect," said Thomas. "We’re continuing to review video footage from different businesses and complexes around the area. Even our own in-car video footage, we are reviewing all of that."
Investigators are looking for surveillance video and doing a ground search in the area where the attack happened.
Hardin has worked with KPD for seven years.
"I trained him in the field officer training program," said Keith Lyon, the President of the Knoxville Fraternal Order of Police and an officer at the Knoxville Police Department. "I cannot think of any time that an officer has been attacked without any kind of warning at these games."
The Knoxville Police Department is looking for witnesses who saw an attack on an officer with a hammer or blunt object Saturday night.
According to KPD, the officer was directing traffic near the intersection of 17th Street and Clinch Avenue when a male suspect ran up from behind the officer and struck him in the back of the head with a hammer or some kind of blunt object between 7:15 and 7:40 p.m.
One driver stuck in traffic gave as much information as she could on the suspect, police said. Officials interviewed and released a person of interest.
An off-duty out-of-county firefighter who had a medical bag in his car also began to render medical assistance to the officer.
The officer had to undergo immediate surgery at UT Medical Center after suffering a serious head injury, KPD said. Surgery went well, and the officer is recovering.
The officer is 51 years old and has been with KPD for seven years.
"The Knoxville Police Department wants to thank everyone for all of the outpourings of love, get well wishes and support to the officer and the department," KPD said in a statement.
The suspect is a white male in 20s. He is 5'10" wearing a black hoodie and gray sweatpants, according to KPD.
Anyone with information about this man should call 865-215-7212.