A Warren County grand jury will hear the case against a man accused of involvement in a shooting hours after tornadoes ripped through the area.
James Elijah Tankersley, 20, of Corbin, faces a charge of first-degree assault in the Dec. 11 incident in which William Gibbs suffered a gunshot wound in the leg during a disturbance at a construction site near Russellville Road and Veterans Memorial Lane.
Tankersley’s father, James Finley Tankersley, 44, of Bowling Green, was charged with second-degree assault and first-degree wanton endangerment in the incident, and his case has already been forwarded to a grand jury.
James E. Tankersley appeared Wednesday in Warren District Court for a preliminary hearing.
Bowling Green Police Department Detective Ryan Dillon testified that he was at Russellville Road and Veterans Memorial Lane monitoring the streets for traffic in the aftermath of the tornadoes when he heard a call over the radio about 4 p.m. Dec. 11 regarding a fight that had broken out on Cornerstone Avenue, a new street in the area where an apartment complex was planned for construction.
After later radio calls referenced a person with a gun and someone with a gunshot wound at the scene, Dillon traveled to the site, where another BGPD officer had applied a tourniquet to Gibbs’ leg.
“I think, if it wasn’t for the tourniquet, this would be a different story, is what medical personnel later advised me,” Dillon said.
Dillon said he spoke first with a woman the detective said was either Gibbs’ girlfriend or wife, who related that she had traveled with Gibbs to the complex site – which is an investment of theirs – to check for damage following the storm.
The couple encountered a 2014 Cadillac at the site and, in trying to drive around the vehicle, sideswiped it, Dillon testified.
James F. Tankersley reportedly called police, who were stretched thin because of the disaster response and couldn’t come to the scene, with Dillon saying the dispatcher told Tankersley to exchange information with the people in the other vehicle.
The exchange between James F. Tankersley and Gibbs became a physical confrontation, with the elderly Tankersley picking up a board while Gibbs directed his girlfriend or wife to retrieve his firearm from the vehicle, Dillon said.
“She stated that the father was the aggressor,” Dillon said.
After retrieving the unloaded, holstered firearm, James E. Tankersley reportedly took it from her, unholstered it, chambered a round and fired, Dillon said.
Before Gibbs was sent to an area hospital, Dillon spoke with him.
“All he said was, ‘How are you going to beat someone up after you shoot them?’ ” Dillon said.
James F. Tankersley is accused of striking Gibbs with a broken piece of wood while he was lying on the ground after being shot, court records show.
Dillon said he spoke to two Atmos Energy employees who were at the site and witnessed the disturbance and heard the gunshot.
The detective said he asked the workers if, based on what they saw, there was a reason for someone to shoot someone in self-defense, and the employees responded they saw no reason for someone to have been shot.
Questioned by James E. Tankersley’s attorney, Alan Simpson, Dillon testified that James F. Tankersley reported being bitten on the thumb by Gibbs during the altercation, and the elderly Tankersley had a “substantial bite mark” on his thumb.
James E. Tankersley gave a statement to police in which he said he shot Gibbs in the leg because he did not want to fire at Gibbs’ chest or head, Dillon said.
James E. Tankersley is currently free on a $10,000 cash bond. James F. Tankersley remains in the Warren County Regional Jail under a $10,000 cash bond.