Trucker shot in scuffle with trooper

| 8/31/2004

A New York truck driver was shot in the chest during an altercation with a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer. State authorities said the scuffle between the two men was “so severe” that the investigation is trying to rule out possible connections to terrorism.

A little before 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Thomas C. Kilpatrick stopped an eastbound tractor-trailer on U.S. 64 for speeding, according Tennessee Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Beth Denton.

Kilpatrick was returning to his patrol car after talking to the driver of the rig when the driver allegedly put the rig in reverse and rammed the patrol car.

While Denton said she had no confirmation that the driver had anything in his hands, Wayne County District Attorney General Mike Bottoms told The Nashville Tennessean that the driver got out of the truck with a knife in his hand and got into a fight with the officer.

Denton said the man was shot in the upper right chest area during the scuffle with the officer. The driver then got back in his truck and drove away. He stopped on his own a short distance later, where he was taken into custody.

The man – identified by The Tennessean as Mohammed Medhat Karim, 46 – was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where it was reported that he was in critical condition following the shooting. The trooper has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation – a matter of routine following an officer-involved shooting.

Maj. Gen Jerry Humble with Tennessee Homeland Security said his department was involved mainly because of the driver’s behavior.

“We’re just checking into it,” Humble said. “We don’t have any indicators of terrorist activity. But in the state of Tennessee, we’re going to make sure – as we should across the country.”

Humble said that the truck driver’s aggressive, erratic behavior was all the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations needed to ask the state Department of Homeland Security to pitch in on the investigation.

Humble even pointed to his agency’s relationship with truckers as an example of how uncommon the driver’s behavior was.

“Truckers are very important to us. They see a lot and know a lot. They are very important to our efforts,” he said. “And we just don’t see truckers acting like that.”

Humble said the man’s truck has been impounded and the cargo will be searched, as a measure to ensure there is not connection to terrorist-related activity.

“We’re going to make sure, as a safeguard, there is no connectivity to terrorism,” he said.

--by Jami Jones, feature editor