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TBI: Truck driver stabbed 4 women at Pilot before being killed by deputies; wounded victim released from hospital

Church pastors have identified two of the women who died as Joyce Whaley and Denise Nibbe

Three women were fatally stabbed at a Pilot truck stop in Knox County early Tuesday morning before responding deputies confronted and killed the suspect, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

A fourth woman was transported to the hospital for treatment. The TBI said she was later released Wednesday.

Just before 7 a.m., Knox Co. deputies were dispatched to the Pilot Travel Center on Strawberry Plains Pike on a reported stabbing.

"Upon arrival, officers observed at least one person with stab wounds outside of the store. A man, armed with a knife and identified by witnesses as the suspect, was also observed in the parking lot. Officers confronted the individual who refused to drop the weapon. At some point during the encounter, one of the officers fired shots, striking the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene," said TBI in a press release.

The suspect was killed. He was identified as Idris Abdus-Salaam, 33, a truck driver from Durham, North Carolina.

Two witnesses apparently chased him out of the gas station, Earhart said.

TBI identified the three women killed, all employees of the Pilot Travel Center, as 57-year-old Joyce Whaley, 51-year-old Patricia Denise Nibbe, and 41-year-old Nettie R. Spencer.

Credit: Tammy Bearden
Nettie Spencer, 41

The fourth victim who was wounded has still not been identified. She was a customer and is still in the hospital

Joyce Whaley was a faithful and steadfast member of The Crossing Chuch in Kodak, according to her pastor.

"One of the most caring people I've ever met," said pastor Kermit McPeek.

Credit: Submitted
Joyce Whaley

McPeek said she he was with her husband when he got the news. In addition to her husband, McPeek said Whaley is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren.

McPeek said she was a church volunteer who loved her family and the Lady Vols.

Pastor Joshua Moore at Grace Community Church remembered Denise Nibbe as a woman you could count on.

“She was one of the most giving people, willing to help in an instant in any situation," he said, noting that she helped him pick out an engagement ring for the woman who became his wife.

Credit: Submitted (WBIR)
Patricia Denise Nibbe

Nibbe leaves behind three children in their late teens and early 20s and a 6-year-old grandson.

"They're naturally devastated," Moore said, adding that she always greeted you with a hug and a smile on her face.

“I think it’s important that people remember her as that caring compassionate, outgoing, loving, nurturing person that she was,” Moore said.

Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam released the following statement:

"Today is a difficult day for the Pilot Company family. We are devastated to confirm the loss of three team members and the injury of a guest after an act of violence at our Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, location this morning. It is with heavy hearts that we extend our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of the victims. We are providing support and counseling to the families and our team. We are working closely with local authorities. Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers."

TBI said this is still an active and ongoing investigation. 

The officers involved in the shooting have not been identified.

Previous story

A suspect was shot by an officer after a reported stabbing Tuesday morning at the Pilot truck stop on Strawberry Plains Pike, according to Knox Co. Sheriff Tom Spangler.

The sheriff said a call came into 911 just before 7 a.m. about a stabbing inside the store.

The deputy confronted the suspect and did fire shots and hit the suspect.

The deputy was not injured.

Sheriff Spangler said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will be investigating the shooting and any further updates will come from them.

Rural Metro fire and ambulances also responded to the scene this morning.

BREAKING NEWS: Knox County Sheriff’s Office gives update on officer involved shooting on Strawberry Plains Pike. At least one victim taken to the hospital.

Posted by WBIR Channel 10 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Captain Jeff Bagwell told 10News that there were multiple stabbing victims, but only one had to be transported to the hospital.

Bagwell also said the suspect who was shot was also transported to the hospital.

He did not have any information on their conditions.

The Knoxville Police Dept.  also responded to the scene.

It is standard procedure for another law enforcement agency to investigate shootings involving another department.

This is a developing story. 

Credit: WBIR