MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tipton County Sheriff’s Office has identified the SWAT deputy injured in a hostage standoff in Covington, Tennessee. The suspect was shot and killed by law enforcement.
Deputy Gene Molder is reported to be recovering after being released from the hospital.
The hostage standoff began just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, 2022, at Dean’s Tax Service in Covington. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said 42-year-old Felix Tyler was holding three hostages, one of them a child, at gunpoint inside the business.
After about 30 minutes, one adult – an employee of the business – and the child were able to escape, leaving the tax business’ owner and Tyler inside.
Negotiations continued for hours, and when Tipton County Sheriff Shannon Beasley said Tyler stopped responding about 12:40 a.m. Friday, they began to use tear gas to try to rescue the hostage.
About 5 a.m., investigators said a SWAT team entered the building, and Tyler started shooting. Sheriff Beasley said SWAT Deputy Gene Molder was shot in the right arm and right torso. The SWAT team got the Deputy out of the building and he was taken to Regional One Hospital where he underwent surgery, He has since been released.
About 7 a.m., Sheriff Beasley said Tyler came out of a room he had been holed up inside, and a SWAT sniper was able to incapacitate him. The sheriff said they spotted the hostage crawling for the door, and were able to rush her to safety.
At that point, the TBI said the SWAT team approached Tyler, and he reached for a gun. They said that’s when several officers fired at Tyler, killing him.
“I first want to say that our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our Deputy, Gene Molder, and his family as he continues to heal and rest at home," said Sheriff Beasley in a Facebook post. “The heroic efforts of Deputy Molder and the rest of our SWAT team are to be commended as they faced down the barrel of a gunman while trying to save the female hostage. I also want to send our thoughts and prayers to all the hostages that experienced this traumatic event, but especially the female hostage who endured 14 hours of physical and mental anguish throughout the night and early morning hours. We tried our best to save her sooner however, Tyler had other plans that hindered our efforts. Had Deputy Molder not been shot and our team not made the decisions they made during the rescue efforts, that bullet would have likely been for the hostage. And lastly, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Felix Tyler. No matter the decisions Tyler made from beginning to end, his family too went through pain watching the events unfold and are now dealing with the aftermath.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 901-475-3300, Central Dispatch after hours at 901-475-4300, phone in tips at 901-475-3007 or email tips to Sheriff@tiptonco.com. Or contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.