A Tennessee man who authorities apprehended while strapped down in “ballistic body armor” is accused of shooting and killing his 11-year-old sister, his mother, and an adult male who police described as a relative but did not identify specifically.
The man accused of committing the crime spree tacitly admitted to pulling the trigger when a reporter from ABC affiliate WKRN-TV threw questions at him as he was being thrown into jail. Despite the alleged body armor and his sister’s age, he bizarrely claimed that he killed in “self defense.”
According to the local sheriff’s office, the killings took place about an hour south of Nashville in Maury County, according to a press conference carried by area FOX affiliate WZTV. During the early morning chaos, one family member “escaped through a window” and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911, according to Sheriff Bucky Rowland. According to the escaped family member, four others were present when one person began pulling the trigger.
Nathanial Pipkin, 22, was arrested right away. According to the sheriff, he fled the scene in a silver 2003 Ford Mustang. At 8:50 a.m., authorities in Monteagle, Tenn., spotted the vehicle and confirmed its license plate number. Local police in Monteagle requested assistance from the Tennessee Highway Patrol before pulling Pipkin over and arresting him “without incident.”
“The suspect was actively wearing ballistic body armor,” Rowland said. Pipkin’s vehicle contained weapons — including “long guns” in “plain view,” the sheriff added.
Pipkin was taken into custody at 8:56 a.m., according to Rowland. Pipkin had managed to travel 107 miles in the three hours and thirty minutes that elapsed between the shooting and his arrest.
Stephanie Langston, a reporter for Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN-TV, approached Pipkin as he was being led into jail.
“Self-defense,” Pipkin replied.
“Self-defense?” enquired a perplexed onlooker.
“Self-defense,” Pipkin responded again.
“Self-defense?” inquired two more people present, one of whom appeared to be Langston.
Day was Filled with Both Extreme Sadness and a Sense of Pride
Rowland said he couldn’t comment on Pipkin’s possible motive in response to separate questions from reporters at a press conference. Still, he did say his department had contact with Pipkin back on March 2 for allegedly unlawfully possessing a weapon.
“Our agency and our sister agencies . . . everybody came together for one cause,” Rowland said. “Within three hours, this guy’s 100+ miles away, and he doesn’t know that we have a clue who he is. And he’s taken into custody. This is one that everything kind of lined up. It was a lot of great work — professional work done, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
“On the other side,” the sheriff added, “my heart breaks for a family that’s been destroyed today.”
Rowland did not identify or name the person who escaped through the window and dialed 911. He stated that he wished to protect the individual’s privacy because the individual had “gone through a horrible situation.”
According to The Daily Herald, this is the second time in nearly three years that family members have been involved in a fatal shooting in Columbia. Four teenagers were fatally shot at their home on October 15, 2018.
Pipkin is being held at the Maury County jail and will be booked on three counts of homicide.
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