Details of the time leading up to the death of Jacob McAmis were released Tuesday night by the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.
The 18-year-old Chuckey-Doak High School student shot himself during a pursuit by sheriff’s deputies on Asheville Highway shortly before 4:45 p.m. Nov. 26. McAmis had earlier been called into the high school office and fled the school grounds in a car involved in several pursuits that day.
Lt. Michael A. Jones detailed the events leading up to his death.
The report said that, in response to the continuing investigation by school resource officers involving McAmis’ flight from the high school, Jones assembled officers at the Sandwich House restaurant on North Main Street after Lt. Teddy Lawing, school resource officer at South Greene High School, notified Jones that he had a possible location of McAmis at 420 Old Cemetery Road.
Jones said in the report that Lawing got the information from another Chuckey-Doak student. At the restaurant, McAmis’ phone was pinged, and the location came back to the 1400 block of Chuckey Pike.
As deputies discussed possible scenarios that would lead to the phone pinging off a tower in that area, including McAmis possibly traveling along U.S. 11E, Lawing continued to gather information from multiple sources, the report said.
Lawing told Jones that he received information that McAmis was still at 420 Old Cemetery Road.
Seconds later, Lawing told Jones that Greene County 911 Dispatch had a report of a fire in the 300 block of Old Cemetery Road and that a blue car was seen leaving the property, according to the report.
McAmis was driving a blue Chevy Malibu during two earlier pursuits on the afternoon of Nov. 26 that were discontinued.
A news release after McAmis’ death by the sheriff’s department said that at about 11 a.m. on Nov. 26, Chuckey-Doak High School officials were alerted to a student “who was reportedly in possession of illegal narcotics and a firearm.” He was identified as McAmis.
When confronted, McAmis pushed past school Principal Shelly Smith and fled from the school to his car.
“A subsequent pursuit by law enforcement ended with Mr. McAmis evading apprehension,” it said.
Jones’ report said that about noon on Nov. 26, the sheriff’s department received information that McAmis was at a service station at the corner of Kiser Boulevard and Snapps Ferry Road. Deputies located the vehicle at an apartment building on Kiser Boulevard.
When McAmis saw the deputies, he “fled again on Snapps Ferry Road for several miles before Sheriff (Wesley) Holt had me to discontinue the pursuit.”
An earlier pursuit by C-DHS SRO Wayne Wilhoit was also discontinued.
After being informed of the fire, Jones was told that McAmis was at the AMC Classic Towne Crossing 8 movie theater on West Andrew Johnson Highway.
Deputies and Greeneville police started toward the theater and Jones notified Chief Deputy David Beverly “that McAmis was now a suspect in an arson on Old Cemetery Road,” the report said.
McAmis saw officers about to turn into the theater parking lot and drove toward Church Street. The decision was made to initiate another pursuit, the report said.
McAmis “used surface streets to make his way to the Asheville Highway with speeds only reaching 60 to 70 miles per hour at their highest and down to 30 miles per hour at the lowest as he weaved in and out of evening traffic on the Asheville Highway,” the reports said.
McAmis “did so appearing to be in control of his vehicle at almost all times. He continued on with (three deputies) in pursuit,” the report said.
At the intersection of Asheville Highway and the 107 Cutoff, a deputy deployed stop sticks and “spiked the subject’s driver side tires,” the report said.
“McAmis continued on out the Asheville Highway toward North Carolina. Just past Kelley Gap Road, the vehicle veered to the left and struck a guardrail before stopping,” the report said.
Deputies discovered McAmis dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Entry was gained and a revolver was removed from the subject’s hands in his lap and found that he was deceased,” the report said.
Greene County-Greeneville EMS was called to the scene. Beverly also summoned sheriff’s department detectives and the Tennessee Department of Investigation.
In a news release after the incident, Holt said McAmis “was reportedly in possession of illegal narcotics and a firearm,” which was why he was called to the school office.
No drugs were found in the car after his death. Toxicology results are pending.
“This certainly is a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and the students and staff at Chuckey-Doak High School,” Holt said in the news release.
McAmis was C-DHS class president his junior and senior years, consistently achieved high grades and was active in school activities.
In an interview with The Greeneville Sun following his death, adoptive mother Carolyn Looney-McAmis spoke about his frame of mind in the weeks preceding the events of Nov. 26.
(The) events were not a good portrayal of who Jacob was,” Looney-McAmis said. “Everybody loved him.”
McAmis and his brother were adopted by Carolyn and Kevin McAmis three years ago. On Oct. 20, his birthday, McAmis learned that his biological mother had died. About five days later, McAmis and his brother found his elderly foster mother unresponsive following a back surgery, Looney-McAmis said. She died days later.
“That one tragic event can change the course of someone’s life,” Looney-McAmis said, adding that McAmis faced many tragic events in his lifetime. “When you have that combination of family history of mental illness and addiction, that’s a lot of circumstances to overcome.”
Looney-McAmis said the public should know that her son “was just a troubled soul on that day.”eryone did everything that they could to help him,” Looney-McAmis said. The TBI recently referred all questions about McAmis’ death to the sheriff’s department.
Funeral services for McAmis were held on Dec. 1.
Staff Writer Bianca Marais contributed to this report.