A man was shot and killed by law enforcement officers in the pre-dawn hours Friday morning following an armed standoff on Chestnut Ridge Road which ended when the suspect reportedly raised his weapon at SWAT team members.
The man, Clifford Keller, 34, died after suffering at least one gunshot wound from rounds fired by lawmen who had taken up positions around his camper located on property off Chestnut Ridge Road. The road is a gravel, secondary road located off Viola Road.
According to preliminary reports, Keller had been the focus of a days-long manhunt for service of outstanding warrants. He had most recently been bound to the grand jury for possession of meth and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon in October.
Officers finally caught up to Keller at the property on Chestnut Ridge. He was reportedly holed up in a camper in an area that is well known to law enforcement as a place for people to “hide out” due to its remote location. There are several trailers and campers on the property and officers say they regularly visit to serve arrest warrants.
Keller reportedly threatened to shoot the police dog that discovered his whereabouts. That increased tension.
Faced with an armed standoff, deputies called in the local Critical Incident Response Team, commonly called a SWAT team. It’s composed of specially trained local lawmen who specialize in defusing such a hostile situation.
The preliminary report issued by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which has been assigned to investigate the shooting, reveals Keller fired his handgun inside the camper while officers were on the scene. He then appeared outside and brandished the weapon in the direction of officers.
“In spite of verbal orders to drop the weapon, Keller did not comply,” the preliminary TBI report said, noting at least one officer opened fire at that point, killing Keller. All officers involved in the standoff escaped injury. The officers have not been identified.
District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis said the TBI was called to investigate the officer-involved shooting.
“I’m waiting for the results of the investigation to determine if it was justified,” Zavogiannis said, noting further details of what happened on Chestnut Ridge may come after the completion of the investigation.
The TBI had the area secure Friday around noon awaiting the arrival of a medical examiner. A sheriff's department SUV was parked at the bottom of a hill and the Standard was denied permission to take pictures of the scene.