UNION CITY, Tenn. — Investigators are left looking for both a suspect and a motive for a deadly double shooting in a hunting blind at Reelfoot Lake.
The search for 70-year-old shooting suspect David Vowell was suspended Wednesday due to weather conditions and high water. Vowell was charged with murder Tuesday.
Tommy Thomas, the district attorney for Weakley and Obion counties, said a search by air and water has yet to turn up the suspect. Thomas said he believes Vowell is either on the bottom of the lake or has gotten away.
Vowell, a retired businessman who is part owner of Vowell Lumber Company in Martin, Tennessee, has no criminal history.
His cousin, Steve Vowell, called David Vowell “one of the most mild-mannered folks you’ll ever meet.”
“The only time David Vowell would point his gun at another human being is in self-defense,” he said.
Monday’s shooting killed two men who were duck hunting on the northwest Tennessee lake: 26-year-old Chance Black, a manager at an outdoor sporting goods store, and 25-year-old Zachary Grooms, a recent graduate of Bethel University who was a member of the school’s archery team.
A third hunter who was in the duck blind, Jeff Crabtree, managed to escape, Thomas said.
Thomas said there is no apparent motive for the shooting. He relayed the events as Crabtree described them to investigators:
Crabtree said the three went to hunt around 6 a.m. Around 9, a boat approached the blind with David Vowell inside. He approached and asked if he could hunt out of the blind, and they said yes.
Crabtree said Vowell was in the process of getting out of his boat, and Crabtree thought it odd that Vowell was loading his gun, because normally you don’t load your gun until you get to your hunting position.
According to Thomas, Crabtree said he turned around and heard a gunshot. He saw Zach Grooms was shot in the chest with a shotgun and shortly after that, Chance Black was shot in the side.
Crabtree managed to wrestle the gun away from Vowell, then threw the gun in the water and knocked Vowell out of the boat he was in.
Crabtree then took off to shore to get help and last saw Vowell standing in waist-deep water.
Vowell is still considered armed and dangerous. If you have any information on his whereabouts, you are asked to call the Tennessee Bureau of investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
A Gofundme has been set up for the victims’ memorial fund.