Sheriff: McMinn shooting scene 'unlike anything I have seen'

Man wounded in shootout with McMinn officers booked on murder, arson and kidnapping charges

Roger Branson / Photo from McMinn County Sheriff's Office

The McMinn County, Tennessee, man shot by officers Oct. 25 after he allegedly gunned down his wife and engaged them in a shootout is now jailed on multiple felony charges.

Roger Branson, 59, is being held at the McMinn County Jail on an $850,000 bond on charges of murder, arson and especially aggravated kidnapping in the slaying of his wife, Dawn Branson, according to officials and jail records.

Branson has been arraigned but has no attorney on record since his arrest Sunday after being released from the hospital.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said Tuesday the situation that unfolded Oct. 25 at the home on County Road 288 in Niota was unlike anything he's seen in his 30-year career.

Officers on the night of the incident initially tried negotiating with Roger Branson, "but when [Dawn Branson] jumped out the window, it escalated very quickly," Guy said. As she tried to escape, she was shot.

One of the approximately eight deputies on the scene is a veteran who said the situation was very like house-to-house combat he experienced while serving in Iraq, Guy said.

Roger Branson "fired several shots and set several buildings on fire," Guy said.

He also "had pulled a burning car across the driveway, there were explosions going off, pouring rain, a very dynamic scene," Guy said. "But [deputies] kept their focus and kept him contained and got into the gunfight with him, literally, between two of the burning buildings."

He was eventually shot by deputies. Dawn Branson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Guy said officer training played a major role.

"You train for homicides, we train for negotiations, we train for shootouts, we train for weather, we train for fires, but never in 30 years of public service have I ever seen all those things happen at the same scene," Guy said. "It was a very dangerous and dynamic scene and we're thankful that none of the officers were injured."

None of Branson's gunshot wounds were in vital areas, Guy said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is probing the officer-involved shooting portion of the case, while county detectives are leading the investigation into the homicide, according to TBI spokesman Josh DeVine.

Branson faces a General Sessions Court date on Nov. 14, according to court officials.

On a GoFundMe page set up for donations to help the family, a family member said all of Dawn Branson's relatives were devastated by the tragedy. Dawn Branson's sister's dog died in one of the dwellings burned.

"No one should ever have to experience this kind of loss and evil," the site states.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at