Melissa Smith is a 37-year-old Tennessee woman who has been charged with first-degree murder after police say she shot and killed her husband, Red Bank Police Officer James Smith, during an argument in a parking lot in the Kodak community of Sevierville, Tennessee. James Smith, 41, who went by Chip Smith, was shot in the abdomen about 7:20 p.m. on Saturday, February 2, 2020, and later died at a nearby hospital, the Sevierville Police Department said.
The Red Bank Police Department said in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Smith’s family during this difficult time. Officer Smith has many years of law enforcement service. He honorably and faithfully served this agency and community. We want to take this opportunity to ask for everyone’s support during this very difficult time. Please keep his family, friends and fellow law enforcement family in your thoughts and prayers.”
The Sevierville Police Department said officers responded to a shooting at 3099 Winfield Dunn Parkway, a highway rest stop and visitor’s center, at 7:23 p.m. on Saturday. The officers found an adult male suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center by the Sevier County Ambulance Service and was pronounced dead, police said. Police said a handgun was recovered at the scene and Melissa Smith was taken into custody.
Here’s what you need to know about Melissa Smith and the fatal shooting of Red Bank Police Officer James “Chip” Smith:
1. Melissa Smith Told Police She & Her Husband Had Been at a Distillery Drinking for About 2 Hours & Got Into an Argument While Driving Home
Melissa Smith told police she was with her husband at the Old Tennessee Distillery Company for about two hours before the argument and shooting occurred and they had been drinking, according to court documents obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The newspaper reports that officers found Melissa Smith kneeling next to her husband with her hand on his abdomen after the shooting.
Melissa Smith told police she and her husband began arguing in the car after they left the distillery, and James Smith pulled into a parking lot as it escalated, the Times Free Press reported.
“The two exited the vehicle and continued to argue until Melissa Smith went back to the vehicle, grabbed a pistol and shot James Smith,” the newspaper wrote, citing court documents. “Melissa Smith admitted to shooting James Smith with the pistol, according to court records. A .380 semi-automatic pistol was found at the scene.”
2. The Couple Had Been Married Since August 2002 & Have a Son Together & Were Involved in a Domestic Incident in 2007 That Led to Charges Against Chip Smith
Melissa Smith and James “Chip” Smith had been married since August 17, 2002, according to Melissa’s Facebook page.
The couple has a 14-year-old son together, according to Melissa Smith’s Facebook page. They live in Soddy-Daisy.
Chip Smith was arrested on domestic violence charges in 2007 while he was a detective with the Soddy-Daisy Police Department, according to an article in The Chattanoogan from the time.
According to a complaint obtained by The Chattanoogan, James Smith and his wife got into an argument that led to a “physical confrontation.” Police said Melissa Smith confronted her husband on a “marital issue” and he grabbed her and threw her across a bed onto their child, the news site reported.
“Mrs. Smith said her husband was on top of her and began strangling her with his hands around her neck. She said they began screaming and hitting each other,” the news site wrote. “Mrs. Smith said she ran into another room and called 911 on her cell phone. She said her husband grabbed the phone from her and hung it up. She said he pushed her down on a couch, but she was able to get away. Officers said they saw injuries to the right side of Mrs. Smith’s neck as well as injuries on her left arm.”
The case was dismissed in January 2008.
3. Melissa Smith Works at a Medical Practice & Is a Soddy-Daisy Native
Melissa Marlow Smith works at CHI Memorial Integrative Medicine Associates, a family medical practice in Chattanooga, according to her Facebook profile. It is not clear what her job at the medical practice is.
According to her Facebook page, she was born and raised in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, and graduated from Soddy-Daisy High School in 2000, two years before she and Chip Smith married.
Chip Smith is also from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, and graduated from Chattanooga State Community College, according to his Facebook page.
4. Chip Smith Previously Worked as an Officer With the Soddy-Daisy & Chattanooga Police Departments & ‘Devoted Himself to Protecting the Citizens of These Communities,’ Red Bank Police Say
The Red Bank Police Department said in a statement posted to Facebook about the death of James Smith that they, “lost an outstanding officer and friend yesterday.”
The department said, “He also served several other law enforcement agencies and communities including the Soddy-Daisy Police Department and Chattanooga Police Department. As a law enforcement officer, he devoted himself to protecting the citizens of these communities. For those that ever met him or know him, they know that he was kind and always willing to do anything to help you. His loss will leave a void at our agency and the law enforcement community.”
Chattanooga Police told the Times Free Press, they are “ready to provide any patrol or special coverage needed by Red Bank Police Department as they grieve the loss of their officer and friend.”
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, “”We are saddened by the loss of a fellow officer in such tragic circumstances. Our hearts go out to Chief Seymour and our brothers in blue at the Red Bank Police Department during this very difficult time. Chip has served his community for many years as both a volunteer fireman and law enforcement officer. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
On Facebook, the Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service wrote, “Chip was both an on duty and off duty friend to many of us here at HCEMS, and we are devastated by the news of his death. Chip was also a well known individual in the Soddy Daisy community, and he will be mourned by many. Godspeed Brother.”
5. Melissa Smith Is Being Held at the Sevier County Jail on $1 Million Bail as the Investigation Continues
Melissa Smith is being held at the Sevier County Jail, according to police. Smith was booked into the jail at 1 a.m. on February 2. She was charged with first-degree murder and carrying a weapon while under the influence, according to online jail records.
She is being held in $1 million bail and has a March 2 court date scheduled on the weapon charge and a March 20 court date on the murder charge. It is not clear if she has appeared before a judge already.
Smith could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not known if she has hired an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
The Sevierville Police Department said in a statement, “The investigation is ongoing and no additional information is available at this time.