JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (WATE) – A Jefferson City man has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after police he intentionally drove into pedestrians early Monday.
Police say the crashes occurred near Main Street – one on West Main Street near Russell Avenue and the other, East Main Street.
William David Phillips, 33, of Jefferson City was taken into custody immediately following the two pedestrian-related crashes and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.
A preliminary investigation indicated that it was an intentional act of violence towards randomly chosen pedestrians. Investigators have determined Phillips did not know the victims.
Carson-Newman University confirmed that Sierra Cahoon 30, Nolan Cahoon, 2, and the unborn child of Carson-Newman assistant athletics trainer Matt Cahoon were killed in the crash.
An arrest warrant says Phillips told police he heard a voice that told him he needed to “go kill the meth addicts” so he began driving very fast. He said the voice then told him Sierra Cahoon’s baby stroller had meth in it, so he intentionally drove into them, killing both.
“The Carson-Newman family mourns today over this tragic loss. Our hearts are breaking for one of our own,” said Carson-Newman interim president Dr. Paul Percy. “We take comfort in knowing that God also feels our pain and hears our prayers. Because of this, we ask for prayers for Matt and his family now and in the days ahead.”
Tillman Gunter, 61, of Jefferson City was struck at the East Main Street location. He was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
According to JCPD, at 3:30 p.m. Monday, officers responded to a motor vehicle crash involving a pedestrian in the area of West Main St. and Russell Ave. Once on scene, officers say they discovered a single vehicle lodged within a building and two pedestrians that had apparently been struck.
First responders then learned of another crash scene on East Main Street where an additional pedestrian had been struck.
Police saying the pedestrians from the West Main Street scene died, while the pedestrian from the East Main Street scene was injured and transported to a local hospital.
Officers also discovered an employee located within the building had been struck was injured and transported to a local hospital for treatment.
The JCPD crash response team and members of the criminal investigation division are currently investigating.
A fund at the University has been established to benefit the Cahoon family. Those wishing to contribute may give online to “The Randall and Kay O’Brien Benevolent Fund”. Donations may also be given by calling the University at 865-471-3233.