LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Randy Howard, 65, was killed in a shootout with a bounty hunter at his Lynchburg home Tuesday evening, June 9.
TBI agents continue to investigate the shooting incident that occurred when bounty hunter Jackie Shell, working for A Plus Bail Bonding in Dunlap, Tenn., shot the country music singer inside Howard’s residence in the 3100 block of Griffin Road. Howard died as a result of his injuries.
According to TBI reports, the bounty hunter shot Howard after Howard fired a weapon at the bounty hunter, who also sustained injuries during the incident. The bounty hunter was attempting to serve a bench warrant on Howard out of Marion County, Tenn., for fourth offense DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and driving on a revoked license.
Marion County Sheriff Ronnie Burnett confirmed a warrant having been placed on Howard after his failure to appear in court.
“He’d been in jail here for a pretty good while. He didn’t show up for court so they had a failure to appear out on him. That’s what the jail told me,” Burnett told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
While every state is different, in Tennessee, a bounty hunter can arrest a bail jumper “at any place in this state,” necessary, including the bail jumper’s residence, according to the attorney general’s office.
“Tennessee courts would likely conclude that a bounty hunter may, if necessary, use reasonable force to enter the bail jumper’s residence,” their office states online.
When Shell — who previously served as the chief investigator for the Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Office — showed up at Howard’s home, the singer opened fire, according to investigators. The bounty hunter returned fire, killing the singer at the scene. The bounty hunter, who has not been named, was also hit, but is expected to make a full recovery.
It was Howard who reportedly opened fire first and the bounty hunter returned his fire, hitting Howard and killing him.
Howard, a Georgia native, was part of the vanguard of the Outlaw Country movement that spawned Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck and more. He released his debut album, “Now and Then” in 1976, and would go on to record “All American Redneck” for Warner Bros. in 1983, and a self-titled album for Atlantic in 1988, as well as other recording projects for smaller labels.
His profanely humorous song “All American Redneck” was an underground hit that became the song most associated with Howard, who shared the stage with Nelson, Jennings, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Jr. and more during his long career.
The singer’s death has raised new questions about the rights of bounty hunters. While many states require bondsmen to be licensed, Tennessee doesn’t. In this instance the bounty hunter had a warrant, and he claims to have fired in self-defense, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported that Howard was in his own home, where he had the legal right to defend himself.
“I don’t believe they had the right to come in his house, no,” said Howard’s neighbor Terry Dotson, adding that Howard was “a giving person.”
“He would do anything for you. If you asked for the shirt off his back, he’d give it to you. He was a good guy.”
But Howard was also in trouble with the law.
“One morning I went over there to take him to court and he wasn’t ready,” Dotson said. “He said, ‘Well, I’ll call them in a couple hours.’ And that’s when I got mad at him. I said, ‘Look, we’re supposed to be there at 9 o’clock.’”
Apparently Howard never went.
Investigators said Howard began firing shots first and the bounty hunter returned fire. Both men were hit and Howard died inside his long-time Lynchburg home.
“He said he wasn’t going back to jail. That’s what he told me,” Dotson said.
—From Staff and Wire Reports (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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