Red Bank police officer killed in Sevierville; wife charged with murder

Melissa Smith

The Sevierville, Tennessee, Police Department said Red Bank police officer James Smith was shot and killed Saturday in the Kodak community of Sevierville while off duty.

According Sevier County court documents, police were called to the 3000 block of Winfield Dunn Parkway where they found 41-year old James "Chip" Smith, lying on his back in the grass with a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen.

His wife, 37-year old Melissa Smith, was kneeling down next to him with her hands on his stomach, court documents state.

James Smith was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where he later died.

Melissa Smith, was taken to the Sevierville Police Department for questioning. She told officers that she and James Smith had been at the Old Tennessee Distillery Co. for about two hours.

Once in the car, the couple began arguing and it escalated to the point James Smith pulled over into the parking lot on Winfield Dunn Parkway, court documents state. The two exited the vehicle and continued to argue until Melissa Smith went back to the vehicle, grabbed a pistol and shot James Smith.

Melissa Smith admitted to shooting James Smith with the pistol, according to court records. A .380 semi-automatic pistol was found at the scene.

Melissa Smith was arrested and booked into the Sevier County Jail. She is being charged with first-degree murder and possession of a handgun while under the influence, court documents show.

"The Red Bank Police Department lost an outstanding officer and friend yesterday," Red Bank police wrote in a Facebook post.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Smith's family during this difficult time. Officer Smith has many years of law enforcement service. He honorably and faithfully served this agency and community."

James Smith worked for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Chattanooga and Soddy-Daisy police departments before his career at the Red Bank Police Department.

"As a law enforcement officer, he devoted himself to protecting the citizens of these communities," Red Bank police said. "For those that ever met him or know him, they know that he was kind and always willing to do anything to help you. His loss will leave a void at our agency and the law enforcement community."

"We want to take this opportunity to ask for everyone's support during this very difficult time. Please keep his family, friends and fellow law enforcement family in your thoughts and prayers."

The Chattanooga Police Department is "ready to provide any patrol or special coverage needed by Red Bank Police Department as they grieve the loss of their officer and friend," Chattanooga police spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said Sunday.

Soddy-Daisy police Chief Jeff Gann could not be reached for comment.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has also offered to provide resources and personnel to the Red Bank Police Department.

"We are saddened by the loss of a fellow officer in such tragic circumstances," Sheriff Jim Hammond said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to Chief Seymour and our brothers in blue at the Red Bank Police Department during this very difficult time. Chip has served his community for many years as both a volunteer fireman and law enforcement officer. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him."

In a Facebook post, Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service offered their condolences and prayers.

"Chip was both an on duty and off duty friend to many of us here at HCEMS, and we are devastated by the news of his death. Chip was also a well known individual in the Soddy Daisy community, and he will be mourned by many. Godspeed Brother."