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Remembering the Volunteer Parkway shooting, one year later

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

BRISTOL, TN - It's been one year since the Volunteer Parkway shooting. A lone memorial is placed on the median across from the Days Inn to never forget what happened. Last year, an active shooter situation on Volunteer Parkway called in Bristol, Tennessee police, responding to a call they'd hope to never receive.

"That was a very difficult situation for our department to respond to as well as the community and we do so as we felt was needed to," says Bristol, Tennessee Police Chief Blaine Wade.

The shooter was identified as Lakeem Scott, who opened fire against the public and police in what was found to likely be a racially motivated crime. Among those injured were a Bristol, Tennessee police officer, Debbie Watts, a hotel clerk, and Jennifer Rooney, a newspaper carrier. Rooney did not survive her injuries in an act of violence that took a mother away from her family.

Kiran Patel is the owner of the Days Inn where hotel clerk, Debbie Watts, was shot several times.

"I felt like it happened to one of my family members and it's really really sad to think even about it," Patel says.

Police say officers are trained to immediately engage the suspect in an active shooter situation.

"That's the first thing we do, we try to find the shooter and to engage them, and ultimately that causes them to quit the mission that they're on specifically and react to our police officers," Chief Wade says.

Chief Wade says situations like this one make him more aware that some people view officers as the enemy.

"In this situation, this individual was intending to kill police officers as well as other people in our community who were innocent... There are people who don't like you simply because you're wearing a uniform, but fortunately in our community that's extremely unusual," he says.

Patel says he never would have imagined something like this could happen so close to home.

"I would think that it would have never happened and I also think that God is great and he saved Debbie, and she's really fine now and it was like a bad dream," he says.

It was a nightmare that was indeed a reality. Chief Wade says he is thankful for the courage of the officers who were able to stop this incident and for those who help keep our community safe everyday. Lakeem Scott is serving life in prison with a chance of parole after 52 years. He will be 92 years-old before he can possibly be released.

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