BRISTOL, Tenn. Aug 12 2012
Mike Henegar prayed that the guy on the ground was still alive.
Moments earlier, a pair of gunshots pierced the dull silence of midnight at Brookside Estates mobile home park off of U.S. Highway 421.
Henegar stepped outside and a woman begged to use his cell phone. She dialed 911 but was too hysterical to talk.
That’s when the emergency dispatcher on the line said someone had to check for a pulse. Someone had to see if the man on the ground was still alive.
The man stared unblinking at the sky, his legs twisted, his arms spread in opposite directions with a pistol still clutched in one hand.
“I agreed to do it,” Henegar said of carrying out the dispatcher’s directive. “There was no pulse.”
Bounty hunter Joshua Scott Horne, 32, of Bristol, Tenn., died early Friday of a single shot from his own gun while trying to arrest the wrong person.
Witnesses said Horne ran up to his target, aimed his pistol and yelled that the guy was under arrest. Bristol Tennessee Police said the two men struggled over the weapon and multiple shots were fired.
Police said they are still piecing together the struggle and will let the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office make the call on whether to file charges. Investigators have not named the second person involved in the shooting.
“There’s too many unanswered questions at this point to make a decision on charges,” Capt. Charlie Thomas said.
A private, home-surveillance video obtained by the Bristol Herald Courier shows a pickup truck driving along the mobile home park’s Madeline Drive just minutes after midnight and vanishing from view. Seconds later, Horne, wearing shorts, can be seen sprinting after the truck.
Dogs are heard barking. Then there’s yelling from somewhere outside of the camera’s view and the dogs go quiet.
Suddenly, a gunshot erupts.
A resident then walks past the camera and disappears in the direction of the truck and Horne.
There’s more yelling, and then a final gunshot.
One bullet grazed Horne’s target just under his right eye, police report, and he’s since been treated at Bristol Regional Medical Center and released.
Police did not say where Horne was struck. But witness William Wesley Henson, the resident seen walking in the video, said Horne was shot in the chest.
The struggle began in the cab of the pickup truck, Henson said. Both men, their hands still on the pistol, then fell to the ground and rolled to rear of the pickup before stopping partially under the truck bed.
“The other guy [the target] had his finger on the trigger and rolled the gun around and Boom! Right in [Horne’s] chest,” Henson said.
Brookside Estates residents said they know the target only as Dave, and that he lives on disability because of medical problems with his legs.
Horne, a freelance bounty hunter, was hunting a fugitive for Kingsport-based Tri-City Bonding. A company official refused to field a reporter’s queries said he had spoken to investigators and referred all questions to police.
A search of Bristol, Va., court records shows that Horne had felony convictions for credit card theft and probation violations. A search of Sullivan County court records shows a string of traffic violations and an Aug. 5, 2012, arrest on a charge of driving on a revoked license.
Residents said Horne first scoped out the mobile home for several hours while waiting for his target to come home from work. The bounty hunter had an arrest warrant with him and showed a copy of the form to anyone who cared to look.
One resident, who requested anonymity, said that Horne promised no one would get hurt that night and said he didn’t have a gun.
Henson said Horne initially arrived with four other men. But the men left and Horne stayed behind in his car, which was parked in Henson’s driveway.
“I knew somebody was going to get hurt,” Henson said. “It never should have happened.”
Henson and his brother, who lives within yards of where the struggle happened and stepped outside after hearing the shots, tackled Horne’s target. Henson, who was bit in the ensuing fight, used a set of handcuffs he spotted near Horne’s body to shackle and subdue the target.
Surveillance video shows the two brothers handing their suspect over to police.
“I left the weapon up there,” one brother yells. “I’ve got him handcuffed.”
The man in the center, wearing handcuffs, then yells to police: “Hey! I want to talk to somebody.”
A police officer strides into the camera’s view.
“Who shot who?” she asks.
The handcuffed man replies: “He shot me first … in the head.”