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Suspect Malachi Franklin arrested in deadly Sweetwater shooting

Two individuals were already in custody and were facing murder charges.

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On Friday, Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones declared that an additional suspect had been apprehended by MCSO deputies in connection with the fatal Sweetwater shooting.

Malachi Franklin was taken into custody in Market Square with assistance from officials of the Knoxville Police Department.

The shooting, which occurred on Valentine’s Day, resulted in the death of 2-year-old Alayna Butts.

Two individuals were already in custody and were facing murder charges.

Sheriff Tommy Jones issued the following statement:

On February 24th, 2023 Detectives from the Monroe County Sheriffs Office along with the Knoxville Police Department located and arrested Malachi Franklin in Market Square in reference to the Homicide investigation in Sweetwater from Valentines Day.

Original Story:

On February 14, just after 4 p.m., a shooting occurred at a home on Hawkins Road, resulting in five victims, including a child.

Multiple agencies, including the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the scene. Upon arrival, officers found two people on the ground, one of whom was identified as Lenning Huerta lying motionless on the front porch, while the other was lying on the ground with a head wound.

According to an affidavit, Sophia Sloan, an uninjured victim, explained to officers that she had just returned home from Dollar General with her friends Dejaney Gennoe, Kaden McMurray, her boyfriend Lucas Maynard, and her two unidentified children, when four men, including Lenning Huerta, Itzhui Huerta, Liu Huerta, and an unknown person, demanded to be let into her house.

Sloan hit the men with a metal tent pole, and the shooting started soon after. According to the affidavit, Lenning Huerta fired his pistol and hit [redacted] in the head, while Sloan shoved [redacted] into her bedroom.

More gunfire then erupted from behind Sloan as she turned, and people in the house started returning fire.

By the time the situation calmed down, Maynard had been shot in the stomach, and McMurray had reportedly been shot in the head.

According to official records, Maynard was taken to Sweetwater Hospital by Gennoe and McMurray, while the unidentified victim was transported via ambulance in critical condition.

Unfortunately, Lenning Huerta passed away shortly after the shooting, as confirmed by an obituary from Loudon Funeral Home.

Liu Huerta is currently in custody at the Monroe County Justice Center and is facing a multitude of charges including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and the use of a firearm during a dangerous felony.

He appeared in court on Friday and was given a $2 million bond.

On Monday, Feb. 20, Itzhui Huerta was also booked into the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of domestic assault, illegal possession of a firearm, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and aggravated burglary, as stated in the booking system.


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