(WJHL) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) on Wednesday issued a Most Wanted Alert on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a man who escaped an officer-involved shooting at a Kingsport fast-food restaurant Tuesday night.
According to the TBI, Cody Keith Christian, 30, of Kingsport, faces several federal charges, including Hobbs Act robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime and felon in possession of a firearm. Christian is considered armed and dangerous.
He was last seen in the Kingsport area Tuesday night, the TBI stated, and a $2,500 reward is offered for information that leads to his arrest.
Previous reports from the TBI indicated that agents spotted Christian, who has served time in jail and prison for violent crimes, in a Cookout parking lot on East Stone Drive around 8:30 p.m. The agency stated that a TBI agent fired shots at Christian, but the circumstances leading up to the incident have not yet been released.
It is not known whether a bullet hit Christian, and authorities did not disclose how they believe Christian fled the scene.
Following the shooting, police swarmed an apartment complex with an associated address to Christian.
“He was going to Cookout to get something to eat and I was here with the kids,” Haylee McClain told News Channel 11. “Someone had called me and told me that the police were chasing my car, so naturally I looked outside to see what was going on, and my car was here but he wasn’t.”
She shares a 6-month-old daughter, Ava, with Christian and lives on Reedy Place.
“He’s done things; he’s obviously been arrested recently for something that happened in Johnson City, I think, so that’s what I thought they were looking for him for,” she said. “We are together sometimes. He’s his own person, and he’s a grown man.”
McClain was questioned and sent back home.
“I’m not scared of him because I know this isn’t him,” she said. “This is the drugs, and when he’s not on drugs he’s not like this. So, no, I’m not scared particularly. I’m scared that they’re going to shoot him and he’s not going to be alive afterward — that’s what I’m scared of, but not of him. He would never hurt me or my kids or anything like that.”
News Channel 11 asked McClain what her plea is to Christian, even if he is in trouble with the law.
“I guess I should tell him to turn himself in because I want him to be able to get out and see his daughter,” she said. “I don’t want him to run from them and they shoot him and him just not make it. That’s my worst fear right now. He’s a good dad, and he is a good person. He’s not what he’s making it seem like he is. He just…he just needs help. He just really needs help.”
Neighbors at the apartments on Reedy Place didn’t know of Christian or that he was the subject of a manhunt. Their fear came from not knowing what trouble had found its way to their front doors.
“I looked out the window, and there were cops everywhere,” said Jennifer Brown who lives down the street. “My 7-year-old kept asking me, ‘Am I going to die?’ Those were her exact words.”
Those who live in the area were not aware of Christian’s warrants, the search or the shooting.
“They wasn’t telling us anything,” said Michelle Smith, another neighbor. “When I asked, all they would say was it was under control. There was a bunch — heavy, heavy cop presence. And nobody would tell anybody anything.”
The search stayed active for hours. Those who live nearby stayed hidden.
“My youngest — she was scared to crying,” said Smith.
Authorities were still circling Wednesday and the neighborhood was on edge. A few doors down, Brown was already hoping for a better tomorrow.
“I just want a better life for us and this is not, I feel like, a safe place to have my kids,” Brown said.
News Channel 11 dug into Christian’s criminal history, which showed multiple run-ins with law enforcement in various jurisdictions along with jail and prison time.
His most recent arrest was in January 2022 — less than a year after he was released from prison. Christian was accused of using two guns to rob a Boones Creek gas station.