Deputies shoot, kill man suspected of kidnapping in East Ridge

Georgia Department of Corrections / Edward Dale Ahrens
Georgia Department of Corrections / Edward Dale Ahrens

Deputies from Catoosa and Knox counties shot and killed a man suspected of kidnapping a girl in East Ridge early Friday morning, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Edward Ahrens, 38, reportedly used his car to hit three officers, the TBI said in a news release Friday.

In Ahrens' car was an 11-year-old girl from Knox County, who was the subject of an endangered child alert from the TBI issued Thursday.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County deputies shoot, kill man suspected of kidnapping after chase)

Around 1:30 a.m. Friday, the TBI said in a social media post the girl had been found safe near the Georgia state line in Hamilton County.

Knox County sheriff's deputies, along with law enforcement officers from Catoosa County and local Tennessee agents, found Ahrens and the child around 1 a.m. Friday as he drove south on Interstate 75 toward Georgia, the TBI said.

Ahrens took Exit 1 in East Ridge, the TBI said. Knox and Catoosa County deputies pulled him over for a traffic stop and blocked all four sides of his vehicle, according to a news release from Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk. The girl could be seen in the front passenger seat, Sisk's office said.

Ahrens did not comply with commands to surrender and allegedly hit multiple deputies on foot with his car, according to the TBI and Catoosa County.

Three Knox County deputies received minor injuries and were treated at the scene, according to the TBI.

Deputies from Catoosa and Knox counties began firing into the car, the TBI said, hitting and killing Ahrens.

The girl was not injured, according to the TBI.

Ahrens was convicted of nine counts of sexual exploitation of children for possessing child pornography in Catoosa County in 2008, according to court records. He served around 10 years in prison in Georgia for those convictions, prison records show. He was registered as a sex offender in the state, with records showing he lived in Ringgold.

Catoosa County investigators were notified around 8:30 p.m. Thursday that Ahrens may be on his way to the Georgia county and worked with Knox County officers to track him using a cellphone and information from a third party, according to Sisk's release.

"This is another case of a young child being lured by a sexual predator through social media that could have ended a young girl's life," Sisk said in the release. "We have got to find a better remedy to protect our children."

(READ MORE: Chattanooga officers not charged in teen's killing)

Three deputies from the Knox County Sheriff's Office are on leave in connection with the shooting, the office said in a social media post. One Catoosa County deputy was also placed on paid leave, according to an email from that office.

East Ridge police arrived as shots were fired and established a perimeter on Ringgold Road, the department said on social media.

The TBI will investigate the shooting at the direction of Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp.

The bureau is already investigating another incident on I-75 earlier this week in which deputies shot and killed a man suspected of kidnapping.

Four Hamilton County deputies are on paid leave for their involvement in the shooting, which stemmed from a dispute involving a couple and their 18-month-old child. The child was not injured, according to the TBI.

Contact Ellen Gerst at egerst@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6319.

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