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2018 in review: A year in crime

A look back at the most notable local crimes of 2018.
Credit: WBIR

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — New law enforcement leaders, trials with national attention, and one of the biggest immigration raids in recent history highlight a year in crime in East Tennessee.

Let's go back through the calendar to review the most notable local crimes of 2018.

In January KPD Officer Jay Williams tried to pull over a vehicle for speeding on Washington Pike.

The driver shot Officer Williams, hitting him in the shoulder.

"I've taken this opportunity to appreciate each day," said Officer Williams. "Nothing is guaranteed and I've been blessed to be able to continue to serve."  
He was awarded KPD's Purple Heart Award in the spring.

The suspect is facing attempted first degree murder charges.
In February, three former Pilot Flying J executives were found guilty in a federal fraud trial.

This was in connection to a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat some trucking customers out of promised fuel rebates.

In early April, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided a meat packing plant in Grainger County.

Ninety-seven workers were arrested, shocking the Morristown community.

A lot of those people were released back to their families, but many are still facing deportation.
Eleven years after the gruesome murders of Chris Newsom and Channon Christian, Eric Boyd was charged on 36 counts in the case, including first degree felony murder.
His trial is set to start in August 2019.

In May we headed to court for the murder trial of Riley Gaul.

Gaul was found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend Emma Walker, who was 16.

He shot her in the head through the wall of her bedroom.

After the trial, a dog park was named after Walker in her honor.

This summer kicked off with a new TBI director from right here in Knoxville.

KPD Police Chief David Rausch was chosen for this top spot by Governor Haslam.

In a matter of days, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero named his replacement after narrowing her search to KPD's four deputy chiefs.

"Starting Monday morning, Eve Thomas will be the chief of the Knoxville Police Department," Rogero announced at a large press conference.

Chief Thomas was sworn in as the first ever female chief of the Knoxville Police Department.
We headed back to court in July, where two former UT football players faced rape charges from their time at school.

Both AJ Johnson and Michael Williams were found not guilty.

"I just want to thank God," Johnson said after the trial. "Without him nothing would have been possible."

As school started in August, schools all across our area ramped up security.

This move for increased safety measures came after the deadly high school shootings in Florida and Texas this spring.

"Any time that we have a tragedy in a school it just it heightens everybody's attention to try to figure out what they need to do different and better," said Lenoir City Police Chief Don White.

Many districts added more school resource officers, while others are working to place metal detectors on campuses.

This fall, a 79-year-old man was attacked during his morning walk on the Ten Mile Creek Greenway in West Knoxville.
"I'm very lucky to survive this and glad to be here," he said.

His attacker has not been caught or identified.

In November, KPD Officer BK Hardin was directing traffic in Fort Sanders for a UT football game when an attacker hit him in the head with a hammer or tire iron.

"We were just doing what we normally do. Then the world started spinning," said Officer Hardin.

The impact fractured his skull, but Officer Hardin is recovering well.

There's a reward of more than $23,000 for anyone who knows who attacked Officer Hardin.

At the end of UT's fall semester, the UT Police Department amped up security around The Rock after hate messages were painted on it.

Someone or some group of unknown people drew swastikas and wrote things like "rape is good" on The Rock.

"We still have to weigh free speech constitutional concerns with safety, so there's really a lot of things to consider when we talk about adding cameras," said UT Police Chief Troy Lane said. "Does that inadvertently keep someone else from expressing themselves?"

In December, an officer-involved shooting left one person dead in Fountain City. The shooting involved KPD, so he Knox County Sheriff's Office is still investigating.

That's your year in crime in East Tennessee in 2018.

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