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Trio accused of robbing couple at Sensabaugh Tunnel

Jeff Bobo • Sep 12, 2019 at 7:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Three men were charged with armed robbery Monday when they allegedly robbed a couple at gunpoint after stopping at Sensabaugh Tunnel under the pretext of spray painting the wall.

The victims, a 36-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman from Wise, Va., told the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office that three men in a Honda Fit gave them a ride because their vehicle had broken down.

Those three men were identified as Austin Shane Williams, 22, 321 Sequoia Drive, Kingsport; Tyler Keith Nelms, 26, 534 Walnut Ave., Kingsport; and Antonio Reyes Watterson, 28, 984 Hoard Lane, Church Hill.

According to an HCSO report, the victims told Cpl. Kenneth Ferguson that the three suspects wanted to stop and paint the wall at Sensabaugh Tunnel, a railroad bridge on Sensabaugh Hollow Road north of Allandale.

The victims stated that when they stopped, Watterson and Nelms allegedly pulled a pistol on them, while Williams was armed with a stick.

The female victim stated they took a pink and blue bag from her containing $200 in cash and other items valued at $638, including her cell phone, makeup, three hospital bills, her wallet, a pocket knife and an inhaler.

Items allegedly taken from the male victim included $60 in cash, a knife, tobacco and cigarettes.

The female victim reportedly told Ferguson one of the suspects stuck a gun in her face, and she heard it click twice.

The suspects then allegedly left the victims at Sensabaugh Tunnel. When they reported the incident to police, a BOLO (be on the lookout) was issued for the Honda and its occupants.

The Kingsport Police Department located the vehicle at the West Side Inn on Stone Drive and conducted a traffic stop, during which police allegedly seized a Vzor handgun in Williams’ possession.

The handbag containing the female’s belongings was reportedly located in the vehicle.

Williams allegedly stated that a second gun was thrown into the woods when police arrived.

Williams, Watterson and Nelms were each charged with aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Nelms was additionally charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

All three were arraigned Wednesday in Hawkins County Sessions Court. Their bonds were set at $75,000 each, and the three are scheduled for preliminary hearing on Sept. 25.

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