As we all know, there are times when one thing leads to another. And in the world of crime, it happens a lot. More than you know. And so it was last spring after someone fired shots into an occupied home, that led to arrests in Knox County and in an adjacent county. The primary player in this is Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Det. Caleb Shuford.
This young professional, 35, joined KCSO in 2015, worked 18 months in the Roger D. Wilson Detention Center, then two years on patrol, two years in the Narcotics Division, a year in the Family Crimes Unit and is now in his third year in his dream position as a Major Crimes Unit detective. It is his calling.
First off, many details about this case will not be reported here. The District Attorney’s Office is still preparing the case for trial and will not release the names of the victims or of those charged. Last summer Det. Shuford presented his case to a Knox County Grand Jury. Indictments were handed down for the alleged shooter on four charges: attempted first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and reckless endangerment times three.
After the initial shooting, the victim called her daughter in another county and learned the same man had just shot at them and their cars. Det. Shuford located their whereabouts, learning that a friend of the family went “to retaliate” and shot up a residence there.
“While speaking with those individuals, I was able to determine a suspect for a shooting that occurred in another county,” Shuford said. All information was passed on to that county for their investigation. Shuford contacted the sheriff’s office in the county and the friend was arrested and is facing charges there.
Two crimes that Shuford solved led KCSO Major Crimes Unit Capt. Jim Shipley to recommend Shuford for KCSO’s Detective of the Month honor for August 2023. He was selected and will be honored on Feb. 6, 2024, during a special ceremony.
“He’s a great detective and works very hard for the victims and their families. Caleb is very detail orientated and he’s incredibly thorough,” Shipley said. “This case shows his dedication. It was a tough case to work, but he kept working the leads.”
The detective agreed with his boss. “It really was a tough case to investigate. There were many details to track down and I had to interview a lot of people and it was frustrating. Many of them didn’t want to talk. It’s one of the tougher cases I’ve ever worked.”
Shuford, born in Anchorage, Alaska, moved here with his family in 2006 from Waynesville, North Carolina, after graduating high school. Before joining KCSO, he spent nine years traveling the southeast installing and servicing large refrigeration units for CCSE in Walmart, Food City stores and Sam’s Warehouse locations. The travel wore him out and he was missing family time, so he followed his heart and joined KCSO.
Family time is something he and his wife, Genni, cherish. They are rearing five sons, ages 10 to 5, on their six-acre mini farm with a few cows. Genni is a busy lady, too. She is judicial assistant for Knox County Criminal Court Judge Hector Sanchez, Tennessee’s first-ever Hispanic Criminal Court Judge.
Their two oldest sons are on a travel baseball team that he coaches. “All of the boys play sports, and we really enjoy camping and fishing, and on our travel baseball team Genni runs the dugout and keeps everyone in line,” he says.
Det. Shuford thinks a lot about his chosen profession. His words are worth considering. “A lot of people in our country have lost respect for the badge. Growing up we respected and honored the police and it meant something to be an officer,” he said. “I want to be a role model for our children for sure. They are proud of what I do.”
He paused for a few seconds and added: “…. It’s crazy what some people do today to other people, here and everywhere. People just don’t have much regard for life now. They watch this nonsense on TV and the Internet and just go out and kill someone without any regard to how it devastates the families. And it affects us, too. Unless you carry or wear the badge, you don’t understand the weight it has and believe me, it can get pretty heavy at times.”
Shuford, also a member of the KCSO Dive Team, says when he was first hired in 2015, he had a five-year goal to be a Major Crimes detective. It took six years. “I do love this job more than any other job I have had here. It is challenging, with highs and lows. But there is one big frustration,” he explained. “Having an unsolved case hanging over your head is tough (because) you keep thinking about it over and over.”
As he said, the badge gets heavy. But not too heavy for this detective.
Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia. If you have someone you think we should consider featuring, please email him at the link with his name or text him at 865-659-3562.