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Sheriff says domestic dispute resulted in shooting death

Tyler Lee Owens

By Richard Rourk

An early morning call on Monday, Feb. 7, led authorities to the scene of a shooting death at the Nolichucky Gorge Campground and Cabins on Jones Branch Road in Erwin. 

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said that the death is being investigated as a homicide and that a suspect is in custody.

Officers with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department arrested Tyler Lee Owens, 29, a resident of Jones Branch Road. Owens is being held in Unicoi County Jail on second degree murder charges in the death of Stacie Brugger, 21.

Hensley told The Erwin Record that Owens allegedly got into a domestic dispute with his girlfriend on Saturday night. At some point during the dispute, a gun went off, according to the sheriff.

Hensley said that Owens later moved the victim’s body into a car at the campground and attempted to clean up the scene.

According to Hensley, deputies responded to a call on Monday morning about a dead woman and arrived on scene to find the suspect with a gun and attempting to flee. 

“Our officers were able to detain the suspect without incident and I commend my officers for not using lethal force,” Hensley said of the tense scene that unfolded once law enforcement arrived at the campground.

Owens faces other charges in addition to second degree murder, including tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and unlawful use of a firearm by a felon.

Hensley noted that the investigation is ongoing and asked for prayers for both families.