published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Manchester doctor shot; wife charged

A doctor attending a mediation session in Manchester, Tenn., was gunned down by his estranged wife in front of his lawyer's office Wednesday afternoon on the downtown square, police said.

Dr. Harry Bartee, 47, was shot multiple times by Brenda Bartee on the sidewalk in front of the Rogers, Duncan and North law offices on North Spring Street, according to Manchester police investigator Butch Stewart.

Harry Bartee was airlifted to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga.

His condition was unknown Wednesday but was believed to be critical.

Brenda Bartee, 47, is charged with criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder and is being held on a $1 million bond at the Coffee County Jail, Stewart said.

Brenda Bartee and Harry Bartee were at the lawyer's office for mediation about 1 p.m. CST, Stewart said, but "the mediation apparently didn't go well."

"They left, and as they were leaving -- one of the attorneys was walking them out -- a female pulled a handgun out of her waistband and cut loose with seven rounds and hit the victim four times," Stewart said.

Brenda Bartee gave police a statement admitting to the shooting, he said.

"She just said he'd been picking on her," Stewart said.

Stewart said Harry Bartee's girlfriend was at the shooting scene when police arrived, but the investigator did not know whether she was inside the lawyer's office before the shots were fired.

Stewart said late Wednesday that there were still a number of witnesses to interview. No one else was injured in the shooting.

Chris Fox was doing inventory at nearby Toliver's Pawn, Gun and Jewelry Shop when the shots rang out.

Fox said the store's surveillance camera captured the moment.

"Our security camera just caught it," Fox said. "She was about two steps behind him and she shot him right in the back. He hits the ground and she just keeps shooting."

Fox said two Bedford County corrections officers were looking at guns in the pawn shop when the shooting started, and that he and co-worker Bryson Simerly followed the officers out as they ran to aid the downed and bleeding Bartee, he said.

Fox said he put a towel under Bartee's head and he and Simerly, a lifeguard, started helping as much as they could with a small first-aid kit.

"I saw about five shells there on the ground and the gun was still sitting there on the sidewalk," Fox said. "It was still loaded; the hammer was back and slide was still forward.

"It appeared that he was shot multiple times," Fox said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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