A suspect is dead and a sheriff’s deputy in serious condition following a Saturday morning shooting in Sullivan County.

Sheriff Jeff Cassidy says Deputy Steve Hinkle was shot while responding to a check welfare call at 3606 Highway 11W in Blountville. 

According to Cassidy, the suspect, identified as 44-year-old Jackie Scott Pendergrass, fired a shot at deputies as they approached the house. The sheriff says the deputies retreated and tried to communicate with Pendergrass, but he opened fire on them a short time later. During an exchange of gunfire, Hinkle was shot. 

The deputy was taken to a local hospital where he remains in serious condition.

Cassidy says Pendergrass barricaded himself inside the house. After several hours, deputies entered and found him dead of a gunshot wound, according to the sheriff. 

No one else was hurt during the incident. 

TBI is investigating. 

During a 6p.m. news conference on Saturday, Sheriff Jeff Cassidy described Deputy Hinkle as a beloved member of their department.

“Deputy Hinkle is a very loved officer here…Deputy 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. 

Officials with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Saturday night that Deputy Hinkle was a school resource officer, also known as an SRO, at Sullivan Central High School for several years. 

We were also told by officials at the sheriff’s office that Deputy Hinkle was recently 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. 

Many nearby agencies have sent their thoughts and prayers to the department through social media.

Saturday night on Facebook, Sullivan County Commissioner Angie Stanley posted about a vigil for Deputy Steve Hinkle that will take place Sunday afternoon.