A Sullivan County sheriff’s deputy who was shot last Saturday has died.

Sergeant Steve Hinkle had been in serious condition since he was taken to the hospital after he was shot while responding to a call Saturday morning at 3606 Highway 11W near Blountville. 

A procession of law enforcement agencies and emergency vehicles transported the body of the slain Sullivan County deputy from Bristol to Johnson City.  

The following is a statement from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office:

This afternoon, Sullivan County lost a hero.  Sgt. Steve Hinkle passed away from an injury that he received in the line of duty. Sgt. Hinkle proudly served Sullivan County with honor and distinction for over twenty-seven years as a full-time employee.  He also served as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for five years prior to his full-time employment. Arrangements will be forthcoming over the next few days.  Please be respectful of the family during this difficult time.

Investigators say deputies responded to that location to check the welfare of 44-year-old Jackie Scott Pendergrass. Sheriff Jeff Cassidy says Pendergrass shot at deputies as they approached the house, forcing them to retreat. After trying to communicate with Pendergrass, he opened fire on the deputies who then returned fire.

Hinkle was struck during the exchange of gunfire.

Investigators say they later found Pendergrass shot dead inside the house.

During a news conference on the day of the shooting, Sheriff Cassidy described Sgt. Hinkle as a beloved member of their department.

“…Hinkle is a very loved officer here…Hinkle is very respected, he is a father, a grandfather, a brother, he is also a brother of our agency and we love him dearly and our continued prayers in his recovery,” Cassidy said.

The sheriff’s office confirmed that Hinkle was a school resource officer at Sullivan Central High School for several years and had recently been assigned to the patrol division.

“I’ve worked with him for many years, he’s done every facet of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office when it comes to corrections, patrol, school resource officer, process, courts, he started corrections in 1986, he was sent to the law enforcement training academy in 1987,” Cassidy said. 

On Tuesday, Sheriff Cassidy promoted Hinkle to sergeant in a private ceremony and a prayer vigil was held Sunday at the sheriff’s office as Hinkle remained hospitalized. 

Hinkle is the 10th Sullivan County officer killed in the line of duty. The sheriff’s office has established a memorial for the falling officer outside of its headquarters.

The memorial is a patrol car draped in black cloth. The black cloth features the sheriff’s office’s official badge and a blue cloth diagonally across it. 

Community members are honoring the fallen officer by placing notes and flowers at the memorial. 

Hinkle served as a school resource officer at Sullivan Central High School. The school tweeted, “Thank [you] for protecting Sullivan Central. [You] will be missed!”  

The shooting remains under investigation.