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Shooter terrorizes Pine Knot neighborhood

Voice Staff Report

Sheriff Randy Waters announced Tuesday August 10, 2021, the shooter who had been terrorizing a Pine Knot neighborhood has been arrested. The reports of shots fired started early on Saturday, August 7th. Multiple calls from residents to 911 reported shots being fired in the area of Sherman Richmond Road and on Bethel Road from Saturday morning and continued into Sunday. Officers made several trips to the area but when Officers arrived to locate the person shooting, the shooter would disappear into the woods and evade capture. 

From the description given by residents and visual sightings by officers responding, Sheriff Randy Waters identified the person they were looking for as James Strunk. Strunk is also wanted on an indictment warrant from April and had been eluding arrest. 

Early on Tuesday morning Sheriff Waters with Chief Deputy Tom Smith and Deputy Dustin Ridner went to a residence on Sherman Richmond Road where it was believed Strunk might be staying. The Officers found James Strunk asleep in bed with a fully loaded 40 caliber Hi-Point hand gun under his pillow and 7 more bullets in his pocket. Strunk was arrested without incident. 

Sheriff Waters stated, “With the limited man power of the Sheriff’s Office, extra man power was needed in the effort to capture this individual before someone was seriously injured. Therefore, I want to thank all those involved for the extra effort they put forth and their assistance.” 

“I arrested him while he was in bed laying on a pillow with a loaded 40 caliber handgun under it with 7 more shells in his pocket. I believe this shows he wasn’t going to stop. He had been evading capture and without everyones help Strunk might have evaded capture again. We never stopped looking for him. Now people on Bethel and Sherman Richmond Road can sleep at night without worrying about James Strunk running up and down the roads shooting a gun.”

James Strunk was arrested last Christmas Eve, 2020 after he drove a stolen tractor through a gate, fought with the land owner, took the landowners gun and shot through his legs. Strunk then got on the tractor, fired two more shots and left. Sheriff Waters, Deputy Tom Smith and KSP Trooper Shaler Jones followed the tractor’s tire tracks to a camper on Airport Road. The owners of the camper came running out telling the Officers a man on a tractor entered their camper with a gun and said he would shoot anyone who came in the door.

The three officers surrounded the camper and after about 15 minutes talked Strunk out. Strunk was arrested at that time. Because of the delay in the court system caused by Covid-19, Strunk was out on bond and his case did not go to the Grand Jury until April 28, 2021 when he was indicted and a warrant for his arrest was issued. 

James Strunk, age 32, of Pine Knot, KY was charged for the alleged offenses of; Robbery, 2nd Degree; Assault, 4th Degree (Minor Injury); Theft by unlawful taking or Disp Farm Equipment $10,000 or More but Under/$1,000,000; Criminal Mischief 3rd Degree; Possession of Handgun by convicted Felon; Burglary, 2nd Degree; Wanton Endangerment-1st Degree-Police Officer; Persistent Felony Offender I; Possession of Handgun by Convicted Felon; Persistent Felony Offender I. Sheriff Waters is also seeking a warrant for Recovery of Stolen Property-Handgun. The 40 caliber handgun Strunk had under his pillow was stolen. Strunk was lodged in the Knox County Detention Center under a $25,000 cash bond.

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