Hunter witnessed Reelfoot Lake killings, official says; search for suspect continues

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OBION COUNTY, Tenn. — A Martin, Tennessee man wanted in connection with the killing of two duck hunters at Reelfoot Lake remained at large Tuesday evening, as investigators talk to a witness to the shooting.

David Vowell

David Vowell, 70, is accused of killing 26-year-old Chance Black and 25-year-old Zachary Grooms at a duck blind Monday morning. He was charged with two counts of murder, TBI announced Tuesday afternoon. Details on what led to the tragedy have not been released.

But Tommy Thomas, the district attorney for Obion County, confirmed there was a witness to the shooting.

He said investigators are getting more information from a third hunter, who was in the same blind as the two victims.

Thomas said a vehicle and boat belonging to Vowell have been recovered, but the suspect remains at large. He would not comment on whether the shootings stemmed from a disagreement on the location of the hunting blinds. 

Black was the son of the chief deputy of the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department, county officials said.

Jackson Seales, a duck hunting guide at Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee, said he knew Black, who was a manager at Final Flight Outfitters, a sporting goods store in Union City, Tennessee.

“He was just a great. Never met a stranger, always had a smile on him,” Seales said. “Always, ‘Hey man, how’s the duck hunting today?’ Just a good all around guy. I didn’t know the other boy as well, but Chance, I bought a gun off him this summer.”

Final Flight Outfitters confirmed Black was a manager in their gun department. The store released a statement:

“What has taken place is hard to process. No duck is worth the life of a man. What we do know is that God is our refuge and strength, even in the hardest of times.”

Chance Black (courtesy Final Flight Outfitters)

Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee, said Grooms was a recent graduate of the school, where he was a member of the archery team.

Since Monday, there has been an intense search for Vowell, who is considered armed and dangerous, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says.

A Nashville couple anticipating a day of eagle watching at Reelfoot said they were shocked to learn of the murders.

“We saw the helicopter and we thought, ‘Oh, we better get out of here,’” said Terry Solina.

Law enforcement vehicles searched the area around Reelfoot Lake for David Vowell on Tuesday.

Holly Clymer, who lives near the north side of Reelfoot Lake about a mile and half from where the shootings happened, said she won’t rest until Vowell is found.

“Very concerned,” she said, “because he killed once and he might could kill again, you know.”

Officials will meet Wednesday morning at the Obion County Sheriff’s Office to decide what the next phase of their search for Vowell will be.

If you’ve seen Vowell or know where he might be you’re urged to contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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