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Erwin man arrested after 7-hour standoff with police

Stephen Honeycutt

By Richard Rourk

Officers from Erwin Police Department, Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department, Johnson City Police Department and Washington County SWAT, joined forces to apprehend a wanted Tri-Cities man following a standoff that lasted several hours on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

According to Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley, officers from Erwin Police Department noticed Stephen Honeycutt, 41, 136 Rutter Lane, Erwin, speeding on Carolina Avenue. 

“Yesterday afternoon, at approximately 2 p.m., the Erwin Police Department clocked a speeding vehicle on Carolina Avenue,” Hensley told The Erwin Record. “The suspect did not stop and led the officers to a residence on Chestoa Pike. The suspect pulled out what appeared to be hunting rifles and entered the residence from the back.”

The residence was the home of Honeycutt’s ex-girlfriend, and she was able to escape the residence when Honeycutt entered, according to the sheriff.

Honeycutt, who was originally wanted on aggravated criminal trespassing and theft charges stemming from an incident where Honeycutt allegedly kicked in the door at the same residence a week prior, barricaded himself in the house. 

“Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson and I were on the scene and we were able to make our way in the residence with Honeycutt,” Hensley said. “He had several weapons including a .38 pistol.”

According to Hensley, JCPD and Washington County SWAT were called in as well as Rev. Craig Shelton, as he knew the suspect, to start negotiations. 

“We negotiated with the suspect for approximately seven hours,” Hensley said. “The suspect placed the pistol on his lap, and he was shot with a non-lethal bean bag and we were able to end the standoff without injury.”

Honeycutt was taken into custody around 9 p.m. 

Hensley said he was thankful that the incident had a good outcome. 

“I just want to thank the community for their patience while we set up a perimeter and took the necessary measures to resolve the issue,” Hensley said. “I want to thank everyone that prayed for the officers and the suspect. I’d also like to thank Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal, Johnson City Police Chief Karl Turner and all the officers who did an amazing job of responding.” 

According to Hensley, situations like these can be resolved because these organizations work together. 

“We trained with these officers and we have a good relationship with these agencies, and if you have a seven-hour standoff, you need help,” Hensley said.

In addition to the previous trespassing and theft charges, Honeycutt picked up more trespassing and theft charges, along with aggravated domestic assault, aggravated burglary, evading arrest and vandalism charges, according to Hensley.