UPDATE: January 27, 1:40 MT
District Attorney Tommy Thomas released more information today on the Reelfoot Lake shooting. He said David Vowell approached the three waterfowlers from a nearby blind and asked if he could hunt with them. Shortly thereafter, with no explanation, he shot Black and Grooms.
Crabtree, the third hunter, took the gun from Vowell and hit him with the butt of the firearm, knocking Vowell into the lake. Crabtree then threw the gun into the waist-deep water and loaded the two victims into a boat. As Crabtree drove away, he saw Vowell crawl out of the water and into the blind. That was the last time Vowell was seen.
In an interview with the Tennessee River Valley News, a friend of the hunters speculated that something went wrong mentally with Vowell. According to those who know him, this is out of character for the man who has no criminal history.
UPDATE: January 26, 3:33 MT
The Tennessse Bureau of Investigation just announced that an arrest warrant has been filed for Vowell. He’s being charged with two counts of first degree murder. Previously Vowell was considered a “person of interest.”
UPDATE: January 26, 11:41 MT
According to the Jackson Sun, Vowell’s boat was found early this morning on the lake, but it was unoccupied. His truck was towed from the ramp last night.
“We have crews from TBI, Tennessee Wildlife Resources, Obion County Sheriff deputies all out looking for him,” District Attorney Tommy Thomas said. “We don’t know if he got off the lake or if he’s in the water, but we’re searching the entire area.”
Thomas also revealed that the third person with Black and Grooms was Jeffrey Crabtree. Crabtree witnessed the confrontation before seeking medical attention for the two murdered hunters.
ORIGINAL STORY: January 26, 9:31 MT
We have tragic news out of Tennessee this morning. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is searching for a 70-year-old person of interest regarding a double homicide on Reelfoot Lake.
Chance Black, 26, and Zachery Grooms, 25, both of Weakley County, were killed in the incident yesterday. According to local reports, the deaths occurred after the suspect left his hunting blind and approached another party of hunters. It’s believed that there was a third hunter in the blind with Black and Grooms when the shooting happened.
The suspect is David Vowell of Martin, Tennessee. He is considered armed and dangerous and has been on the run for about 24 hours. Nick Beres, of NewsChannel 5, reported last night that Vowell’s pickup and trailer were located at the dock, but that the boat is still missing.
“A lot of hunters come in here and they enjoy the duck hunting and all, but to be upset over somebody shooting more ducks or whatever the case may have been, I don’t know,” David Gray, who lives near the lake, told WPSD Local. “It’s bad to hear that someone, especially young boys, being treated that way. It’s a shame that something like this would happen.”
Reelfoot Lake is in the northwest corner of Tennessee. The 15,000-acre water body is mostly flooded forest and relatively shallow. It’s a popular destination for waterfowlers in the Mississippi Flyway because of its prime habitat.
Authorities are seeking anyone who was near the north end of Reelfoot Lake yesterday or may have information on Vowell’s whereabouts. The number to call is 1-800-TBI-FIND.
We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.