Security firm in dispute over shooting outside jewelry store

Mar. 5--A private security guard at the center of Saturday's double shooting outside a West Knoxville jewelry store has been placed on leave by his company while police investigate possible charges of aggravated assault.

Meanwhile, an attorney for Vinson Guard Service disputed the version of events offered by an attorney for one of two shooting victims, although she declined to offer an account of her own.

Kevin Bowman, 22, and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Elizabeth Day remain at the University of Tennessee Medical Center after being seriously wounded Saturday by security guard Jessie Monroe Walker.

Witnesses have said the couple were in the midst of a heated argument in the parking lot of Markman's Diamonds & Fine Jewelry at 6932 Kingston Pike just prior to being shot at about 2:45 p.m.

Bowman's attorney, T. Scott Jones, said Tuesday that the couple's squabble was finished before Walker intervened. Jones contends that the guard knew that neither person was armed nor posed any threat to him.

"It is a terrible tragedy," Deborah Stevens, who represents Vinson, said Wednesday. "But I would have to strongly disagree with Mr. Jones' statements about how the situation unfolded."

Stevens would not elaborate further, other than to say that multiple eyewitness accounts confirm that Bowman and Day were arguing. She said her office and Vinson are in the early stages of their own internal investigation.

Stevens also confirmed that Walker has been placed on leave.

Walker is licensed to work as an armed security guard by the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, according to an online state database. His license was issued Oct. 10, 2007.

A spokesman for the Knoxville Police Department said Walker, 63, has worked for Vinson since 2006. Nothing has been found to indicate that he has ever been employed as a police officer.

Stevens declined to say whether Walker was carrying a company-issued weapon. She also declined to comment on whether Vinson has any established procedures covering such situations, or whether Walker's actions were justified under the company's policies.

Attempts to reach Walker for comment have been unsuccessful. Stevens said she didn't know if he has hired a lawyer.

Walker is being investigated for aggravated assault, according to a police incident report released Wednesday.

Details of the shooting are sparse in the report, and KPD declined to release a supplemental report that contains more information.

KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk said the supplemental report contains "investigative notes that are not public record at this time."

Walker has not been charged and remains free while the police investigation continues, according to DeBusk. The Knox County District Attorney General's Office ultimately will decide if any criminal charges will be filed, he said.

Jones said Tuesday that Bowman suffered one gunshot to his forehead and was listed in critical condition. Day's attorney, Jeff Whitt, said she was struck once in the chest.

Staff writer Chloe White contributed to this report.

Copyright (c) 2009, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.