Seven bounty hunters who descended on what turned out to be the wrong car outside a Wal-Mart have been indicted on first-degree murder charges in the killing of an unarmed man and the wounding of another, Tennessee police announced Wednesday.
Facing a long list of charges, including first-degree felony murder and three counts of attempted second-degree murder related to the April 23 incident in Clarksville are William L. Byles, 31; Kenneth Chiasson, 38; Antwon D. Keesee, 32; Jonathan Schnepp, 31; Roger D. West, 31; Prentice L. Williams, 34; and Joshua Young, 27.
The charges come after a chaotic scene where police said the bounty hunters shot at four innocent people in a Nissan and chased them for seven miles after spotting them at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Whitfield Boulevard.
Killed in the shocking incident was 24-year-old Jalen Johnson, a father of three from Clarksville.
His family called him an innocent man who died in an act of terrorizing violence.
Johnson’s uncle, Toni Jenkins, told reporters that his nephew and the three men in the car with him had no idea why people would suddenly block their car in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Fearing an attack by gang members, they tried to flee.
The bounty hunters, Jenkins said, started shooting in the parking lot and continued to fire on them during the chase, even ramming the Nissan along the way.
Clarksville police would not confirm or deny these details, but authorities have said they are troubled by how the bounty hunters put people at risk.
Not one of the men in the Nissan was wanted on outstanding charges.
The Clarksville bounty hunters were looking for someone else, and there is no indication that any of the victims fired at the defendants or were even armed, police spokesman Jim Knoll said in an email.
Bail bondsmen are empowered to hire or act as bounty hunters to bring in people who violate the terms of jail bonds, but they can’t use deadly force unless it’s self-defense.
The seven men were all charged with first-degree felony murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, four counts of aggravated assault, employing a firearm in commission of a dangerous felony and felony reckless endangerment, police said.