26, Charged In
BY BILL JONES
A Hawkins County Jail escapee who police say robbed a Greeneville convenience store early Thursday was free for less than 20 hours before he was captured about 7 p.m. Thursday by detectives.
Travis Wayne Gunter, 26, formerly of Community Center Lane, Midway, had been placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's "Top 10 Most Wanted" list on Thursday afternoon.
Greeneville Police Chief Terry Cannon said about 7:15 p.m. Thursday that detectives from his department and the Greene County Sheriff's Department arrested Gunter without incident at the Twin Oaks Village Apartments on Arnold Road.
Chief Cannon said Gunter will be charged with the robbery of the Quick Stop convenience store at the corner of Snapps Ferry road and Kiser Boulevard.
Cannon said Gunter already was a suspect in three January robberies of other convenience stores.
In addition, the police chief said Gunter was a suspect in a pair of northern Greene County convenience store robberies.
Cannon said Greeneville Police Department detectives had earlier filed warrants for Gunter's arrest in connection with the earlier convenience store robberies here.
However, those warrants had not been served because Gunter was in custody in Hawkins County on robbery and other charges there.
Greene County Sheriff Steve Burns said Thursday night that Gunter, who had escaped from the Hawkins County Jail in Rogersville about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, would be held in the Greene County Detention Center at least until he has court appearances on local charges.
At some point, Burns said, Gunter will be returned to Hawkins County to face escape and other charges.
Arrest warrants served on Gunter by GPD Detective Lieutenants Ray Allen and Pat Hankins charged him with three counts of aggravated robbery and one count of robbery in connection with a series of convenience store robberies that began here in December.
One of those warrants, filed by Greene County Detective Sgt. Daniel Ricker, charged Gunter with the Dec. 2 aggravated robbery of the Stuckey's market at Exit 30 of Interstate 81 in northern Greene County.
The warrant said $192.12 was taken during the robbery and that the clerk on duty later identified a man from a "photo lineup" as Gunter.
A second warrant filed by GPD Det. Lt. Pat Hankins charged Gunter with the Jan. 18 robbery of the Quick Stop No. 3 convenience store at 860 West Andrew Johnson Highway. That warrant alleged that Gunter was the man who grabbed cash from the cash register before fleeing the store in a red pickup truck.
A third warrant served on Gunter charged him with the aggravated robbery on Jan. 16 of the Quick Stop No. 4 convenience store at 801 West Main Street. The warrant charged that Gunter was the man who took $557.53 at knifepoint from the store.
A fourth warrant filed by Sheriff's Det. Sgt. Daniel Ricker charged Gunter with the Jan. 15 aggravated robbery of the Roadrunner No. 119 market on Van Hill Road in Baileyton.
The warrant alleged that Gunter took $461 at knifepoint from the clerk on duty. The warrant also said Gunter was later identified as a suspect in the case from a photo lineup.
Bond for Gunter was set at $85,000 and he was scheduled to appear today in General Sessions Court.
He had not yet been charged with the Thursday morning robbery.
Jail Escape Details
Gunter escaped from the Hawkins County Jail in Rogersville about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, stole a pickup truck, drove it to Greeneville and committed the Snapps Ferry Road robbery, Chief Cannon said.
The TBI's Web site said Gunter was wanted by the Hawkins County and Greene County Sheriff's Departments for escape, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and aggravated robbery of a business with a weapon.
Gunter was being held in the Hawkins County Jail on failure to appear, probation violation and armed robbery charges when he escaped late Wednesday.
"On Wednesday, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Travis Wayne Gunter reported a medical problem to correctional officers at the Hawkins County Jail," the TBI Web site says. "Gunter, along with another inmate, assaulted two correctional officers causing them serious injury."
During the escape, according to the TBI, Gunter chased one of the officers back toward the trustees' sleeping area (inside the Hawkins County Jail) and struck the officer in the head with a sock that was stuffed with an item causing serious injury to the officer's head.
The two officers were treated and released from area hospitals after the incident.
"Gunter then stood over the officer and stated (that he should) lay down or he would kill them," according to the TBI's Web site. "Gunter then fled the jail facility on foot and stole a vehicle. Gunter then robbed a store in Greeneville with a knife. The stolen vehicle has been recovered in Greene County."
A news release issued by Hawkins County Sheriff Roger Christian on Thursday said that as a result of the assault on the two corrections officers and the escape, two other inmates were charged.
The release said Bradley Alan Bond, 23, who was being held for especially aggravated robbery, was captured shortly after he and Gunter escaped from the jail. Bond was charged with escape and ordered held without bond.
Another inmate, identified as Justin David Kelley, 20, was charged with criminal responsibility for the conduct of another.
"Kelley is believed to have participated in planning the escape, but did not leave the facility," Sheriff Christian said.
Kelley was being held without bond on unrelated charges.
Stolen Truck Found
A report filed by Greene County Deputy Sheriff Chuck Humphreys said officers recovered a 2003 Dodge pickup off Hartman Lane that had been reported stolen in Rogersville early Thursday.
The report listed Gunter as a suspect in the theft of the truck.
Greeneville police had pursued the truck to the Hartman Lane area after the Thursday morning convenience store robbery, but had lost site of the vehicle.
Deputy Humphreys later found the vehicle abandoned in a field off Vintage Lane, according to his report.