7 Tennessee bounty hunters shot at wrong car, charged with murder

This combo of booking photos released by the Clarksville, Tenn., Police Department shows, top row from left, William L. Byles, Kenneth Chiasson, Antwon D. Keesee and Jonathan Schnepp; bottom row from left, Roger D. West, Prentice L. Williams and Joshua Young. (Clarksville Police Department via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Seven bounty hunters who descended on the wrong car outside a Walmart have been indicted on first-degree murder charges in the killing of an unarmed man and the wounding of another, Tennessee police announced Wednesday.

The charges come after a chaotic scene in Clarksville on April 23, where police said the bounty hunters shot at the four people in the sedan and chased them for seven miles.

Not one of the men in the sedan was wanted on outstanding charges.

In fact, the Clarksville bounty hunters were looking for someone else, and there is no indication that any of the victims fired at the defendants or were even armed, police spokesman Jim Knoll said in an email.

Bail bondsmen are empowered to hire or act as bounty hunters to bring in people who violate the terms of jail bonds, but they can’t use deadly force unless it’s self-defense.

Killed was 24-year-old Jalen Johnson, a father of three from Clarksville. His family called him an innocent man who died in an act of terrorizing violence.

The Montgomery County grand jury charged all seven men, William Byles, Kenneth Chiasson, Antwon Keesee, Jonathan Schnepp, Roger West, Prentice Williams and Joshua Young with first-degree felony murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, four counts of aggravated assault, employing a firearm in commission of a dangerous felony and felony reckless endangerment, police said.

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