(WBIR-LENOIR CITY) Authorities believe a wanted man who was shot and killed when Loudon County Sheriff’s deputies tried to arrest him wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”
Deputies had a warrant for Thongsavanh Vandarack‘s arrest for aggravated statutory rape. They had information that the convicted felon had sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl.
Vandarack had served time in Wisconsin for two attempted homicides and other related felonies. He was sentenced to 49 years, which he served a portion of in Wisconsin from 1993-2010 before being paroled.
According to District Attorney General Russell Johnson, Vandarack’s girlfriend let two deputies into the home, located in the Martel Estates subdivision on Grandview Lane, and called for him to join them in the kitchen.
When the 40-year-old walked into the room, he had both hands in his pockets. When they ordered him to take his hands out of his pockets, investigators said it appeared he had a handgun.
The officers opened fire, striking Vandarack multiple times. A medical helicopter took Vandarack to UT Medical Center, but he died on the way to the hospital.
General Johnson said that from what investigators had learned so far, and from conversations with Vandarack’s girlfriend, they believe that he intended to be killed by officers. He knew that his arrest on the rape charges would likely result in his return to prison.
After he was paroled from prison in Wisconsin, his parole was transferred to Tennessee. Vandarack was monitored by the Tennessee Department of Corrections through a parole officer in Murfreesboro.
Vandarack picked up a DUI charge in Loudon County, which was disposed of when he submitted to a parole violation that returned him to prison for two years. He was released from prison in late 2014.
According to a news release from the ninth judicial district attorney general, Vandarack is believed to have been in a gang.
The two officers involved in the shooting are paid administrative leave, but DAG Johnson said once they complete counseling, they can return to work.