Autopsy confirms teen died from gunshots; 9-1-1 tapes released

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By Lance Coleman
Blount Today

Preliminary autopsy results confirmed a Maryville man, who police said attempted to rob a CVS pharmacy of drugs, died from a gunshot wound after he turned and charged at officers with a knife as they chased him down.

Daniel E. Pfeffer, 18, of Maryville was taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance Service to Blount Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead following the 9:15 p.m. May 31 incident. The officers involved in the shooting were identified as Ronnie Pryor, an 18-year veteran of the department, and D.J. Porter, an officer with about a year with the department.

Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said while it was clear Pfeffer was shot twice, it wasn’t clear which shot killed him. "One
bullet struck him about the right side at the armpit at the chest area and the other struck the lower right abdomen above the belt," Crisp said.

The chief said the medical examiner was scheduled to send blood samples to a lab for toxicology testing that should take between six and eight weeks. "The investigation is getting closer to being closed," he said. "I’ll be conferring with District Attorney General (Mike) Flynn. I anticipate we’ll wrap up the investigation by the end of this week or early next week."

Crisp said the incident started with an attempted robbery. "A white male entered the store with a blue bandana and ball cap and told a manger he wanted all the Oxycontin and hydrocodone they had," Crisp said.

The manager explained that he wasn’t the pharmacist. A clerk nearby made a phone call to Emergency 911. She made the call in a generic way so that it appeared it wasn’t law enforcement she was calling. "That’s what we assume," Crisp said.
The Emergency 911 Communications call was as follows:

Dispatch: "911?Hello, 911."
CVS employee: "Yes."
Dispatch: "Is everything OK there?"
CVS Employee: "No."
Dispatcher: "OK, we’ll get them right on their way."
CVS Employee: "Thank you."

The dispatcher then radioed all Maryville officers.

Dispatcher: "912 to all units. Special attention Maryville units Zone one. Trouble unknown, 103 Foothills Mall Drive. Be there at CVS; had a female on phone; wouldn’t tell me anything; asked her if everything was all right, and she said, ‘No.’ I told her I would get an officer on the way and she said, ‘Thank you,’ and hung up real quick. Unknown trouble, 103 Foothills Mall Drive, CVS."

One officer asked dispatch what exactly they were going into at the pharmacy, and the dispatcher explained that the situation was unknown.

Dispatch: "It came from the business. I believe it was an employee. When I answered, she said ‘Hello’ and wouldn’t say nothing else, and I asked if everything was OK and she said ‘Negative;’ she said ‘No.’ Then she hung up real quick. I don’t know what you’re going to get into. Just let me know when you get close so I’ll see if I can get a hold of somebody there."

Crisp said that within 45 seconds, Pryor arrived, and customers frantically directed him to the back of the store where Pfeffer had taken the manager. Pfeffer had a nylon bag with several knives and a hatchet that he held in a threatening manner on the manager, Crisp said.

Reports said Porter then arrived and entered the store. When they both spotted the suspect, they ordered him to stop. He refused and ran to the front of the store and exited the store.

"He made two steps out, did a 360 and pulled the knives out," Crisp said. "He stopped and came back at them, and that’s when they shot."

Porter’s transmission to dispatchers showed how quickly the situation deteriorated once the officers started chasing Pfeffer and when they saw him spin around with the knives.

Dispatch: "149, status?"
Porter (Officer 149): "Knife. There’s a, there’s a knife."
Dispatch: "149, can you repeat?"
Porter (149): "Shots fired."
Dispatch: "Shots fired."
Porter (149): "Ambulance please."
Pryor (Officer 135): "This 135. We need an ambulance."
Dispatch: "10-4. I’ve got an ambulance."

The chief said the shooting occurred inside the building at the entrance to the store. Pryor immediately began CPR on Pfeffer while Porter called for medical assistance. The 18-year-old was taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance Service to Blount Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

As many as 12 people, including the officers, were in the store at the time of the shooting. The incident, from the time Pfeffer entered to when the shooting occurred, lasted about two minutes, Crisp said.

The chief said standard operating procedure is that the officers are on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

"Preliminary investigation indicates they were acting in accordance with the policies and procedures," he said. "We have an investigation to do, and we’ll do a diligent investigation."

Crisp said three shots were fired.

CVS reopened for business Friday morning, June 1. CVS management had no comment regarding the shooting and referred questions to the Maryville Police Department.

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