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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Tuesday, January 01, 2019 02:49 PM

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Man Charged With Second Degree Murder In Shooting Of West Knox Man Monday Night

One person is dead and deputies have charged one man with second degree murder following a shooting in west Knox County on Monday night, according to the Knox County Sheriff's Office. Investigators said the shooting stemmed from a "low level marijuana transaction" Monday night.

Pictured: Isaiah Styles
Investigators identified the victim of the shooting as Mekhi Luster, 18, of Knoxville. A representative with Knox County Schools said Luster was a former student at Fulton High School, but most recently attended Paul Kelley Volunteer Academy. Officials said Luster had been at Fulton for more than three years and was a senior at the school when he transferred to Paul Kelley Volunteer Academy.

An investigation by KCSO's Major Crimes Unit led to the identification of suspect, 18-year-old Isaiah Styles. Officials originally said they were searching for two suspects as of Monday night, but a K-9 unit tracked them to a residence, where one of the original suspects, identified as Sovereign Matthews, was identified as a witness. Styles was then identified as the primary suspect in the case.

KCSO said detectives confronted Styles in the 1800 block of Penwood Drive in West Knox County at around noon today before he fled on foot.

Deputies said Styles was bitten by a K-9, then taken into custody. He was transported to UT Medical Center for treatment.

Records say Styles was charged with second degree murder and is expected to appear in court for an arraignment hearing Wednesday.

Investigators said the shooting happened on Amber Glades Lane at around 8:45 p.m. Monday night. Officials said the Amber Glades Lane address was not involved in the investigation at all, but that the confrontation happened in the street outside the address when Matthews and Styles met the victim and another witness there, possibly for a transaction that involved $60-$70 worth of marijuana found at the scene.

"In this lifestyle these things happen, that's why it's imperative to stay out of this lifestyle," Lee Tramel of the Knox County Sheriff's Office said. "Drugs don't just kill with overdoses, there are other ways drugs kill, and that's just one of them."

Investigators said the case involved the Matthews, Styles, and an unidentified juvenile female who was said to have transported Styles and Matthews in a vehicle away from the scene. Investigators said a 13-year-old arrived at the scene with Luster in a white car. KCSO said after Luster had been shot, the 13-year-old ran and knocked on doors, asking for help and for someone to let the juvenile use their phone to call 911.

"[It's scary to think,] Being 13 years old and watching someone get shot and then having to pound on people's doors trying to get someone to open because you just saw someone get show, and you think they're coming after you to shoot you," neighbor Cori Kopp recalled.

Investigators said Tuesday in a news conference that the body of Mekhi Luster had been found in the yard of the residence on Amber Glades Lane.

Loudon County deputies said they maintained a presence in the area as residents left for work and school Tuesday morning.

"We are in communication with law enforcement and will adjust our security posture as dictated by the situation," a representative with Knox County Schools said Tuesday morning.

Neighbors in the area told Local 8 News they were locking doors and sheltering in their homes as law enforcement agencies searched for the suspects Monday night. Gretchen Helterhoff lives in the Falcon Pointe subdivision with her family. She told Local 8 News that they moved to an upstairs room for safety reasons and heard one gunshot around 10:20 p.m. followed by another single gunshot about one minute later.