Murder suspect still at large

Man sought is reportedly an ex-boyfriend

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   Police have issued arrest warrants for a Hampton man whom they believe was the shooter in an incident that occurred Wednesday morning where a young mother of two was shot and killed in the parking lot of a city fastfood restaurant.
   Warrants charging Steven Allen Jones, age 34, of 103 Carl Smith Road, with first degree murder were issued by police, according to Elizabethton Police Department Chief Roger Deal.
   The 27-year-old woman, whose identity is still being withheld by police pending notification of her family, was sitting in the driver's seat of a white Jeep Cherokee 4x4 at McDonald's on Broad Street when a male subject approached the vehicle and shot her. "She received two gunshot wounds -- one to the head and one to the chest," said Elizabethton Police Department Capt. Tom Bowers.
   Emergency personnel from the Carter County Rescue Squad removed the woman from the vehicle and transported her to Sycamore Shoals Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival, according to police.
   At the time of the shooting, the woman's two small children were in the vehicle with her. Bowers said that, after police arrived, the children were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services. The children, whom officers said are ages 1 and 3-years-old, were unharmed in the incident.
   Detectives and other officers interviewed witnesses who had been at the restaurant at the time of the shooting. According to EPD Capt. Mike Peters of the Criminal Investigations Division, witnesses said that they had seen the woman inside the restaurant with her two children arguing with a man. Following the argument, according to witnesses, the victim went to her vehicle and the man followed her outside.
   "Witnesses stated that the male went to a beige van with blue stripes, possibly a 1980s model Ford van, and entered the van," said Deal in a statement released by police Tuesday afternoon. "The victim ran to her vehicle and entered the driver's side. At this point the male exited the van and fired a number of shots through the passenger side window of the victim's vehicle, striking the deceased."
   Witnesses told officers that after the man shot the victim, he then fled the scene in the beige van traveling north on Lynn Avenue.
   Jones was developed as a suspect in the incident following police interviews with witnesses. "Robert Jones, fiancé of the victim, said he placed the initial call to 911. Robert Jones stated he had received a call from the victim at 10:59 a.m. and heard her say, 'Don't pull that gun.' He then said a male voice responded, 'I won't pull it,'" states information released by the Elizabethton Police Department. "Robert Jones said he heard the male and the victim argue for approximately one minute. Robert Jones said he recognized the male voice as being that of the defendant, Steven Allen Jones, whom he knew to be the victim's former boyfriend."
   During another interview which police conducted with a witness, whose name was not released, that witness advised them that she had a phone conversation with Jones at approximately 11:15 a.m., just minutes after the shooting, in which Jones said that he had shot the victim.
   In radio transmissions to officers on the scene following the shooting, 911 dispatchers advised police that they were issuing a request to neighboring jurisdictions to be on the lookout (BOLO) for the suspect vehicle. The suspect's vehicle was identified by Elizabethton Police Department Chief Roger Deal as a brown, mid-80s Ford van with a blue stripe.
   Detectives and officers processed the scene after the shooting and recovered five spent shell casings for a 9 millimeter firearm, the same caliber which police believe Jones used to shoot the woman.
   The search for Jones continued on Tuesday as officers searched across the county and stayed in contact with neighboring communities.
   Jones is reportedly wanted by law enforcement authorities in Lauderdale County, in western Tennessee, on a charge of escape. Jones was being held in a detention facility there on charges out of Sullivan County due to overcrowding at the Sullivan County facility. Jones has been charged with several offenses in Sullivan County dating back to 1989, including assault with intent to commit first degree murder, possession of cocaine for resale, and parole violation.
   Jones is described as being 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 156 pounds with brown eyes and red hair. Police described Jones as "armed and dangerous."
   Deal asked any citizens with knowledge of Jones' whereabouts to contact the Elizabethton Police Department at 542-4141 or the Criminal investigations division at 547-6413.