WWhen Nashville Police Chief John Drake heard that two of his officers had been shot outside a Dollar General, he probably never imagined the suspected gunman was so close.
The suspect was later identified as the police chief's son, 38-year-old John C Drake Jr. He is accused of shooting two police officers outside the store in La Vergne, Tennessee — 20 miles from Nashville — on the afternoon of October 21.
La Vergne police described him as “armed and dangerous” and asked the public to remain vigilant as he remains at large, with his person on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's most wanted list.
While the manhunt for the youngest Drake Jr continues, here's what we know:
The shooting occurred at 2:23 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Dollar General on Stones River Road.
Two La Vergne police officers — Ashely Boleyjack and Gregory Kern — were investigating a stolen vehicle outside the store when they encountered Drake Jr. A struggle ensued and Drake Jr. allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot them, according to La Vergne Police Chief Christopher. Moews.
One officer sustained a gunshot wound to the left shoulder, while the second officer sustained a gunshot wound to the groin and right forearm.
Both officers were treated in hospital and are now at home, Mr Moews said on Tuesday.
Drake Jr. reportedly fled the scene in a stolen car after the shooting.
He is 38 years old, 5'11”, weighs 195 pounds, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). He is also the son of Nashville's police chief. “He was last seen with dreadlocks and facial hair,” Chief Moews said Tuesday.
The 38-year-old is now wanted for two counts of attempted first-degree murder. The TBI is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to his arrest.
Drake Jr has a criminal history dating back to 2005. He reportedly has 59 criminal charges in Davidson County, according to WSMV.
He was convicted in 2009 of rape and charged with three separate sex-offense violations between 2015 and 2020. He was also found guilty of burglary, evading arrest, forgery and other charges.
An “estranged” relationship
“I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn that my estranged son, with whom I have had little contact for many years, is the suspect in the shooting of the two La Vergne police officers this afternoon,” said Chief Drake.
“He must now be found and held accountable for his actions,” he added.
The father said that, starting in his teenage years, his son “descended into years of criminal activity.”
The elder Drake previously took exception to his son's behavior, saying in a police department video that he decided at a young age that he wanted to avoid prison. In the video, he mentions his upbringing and said that as a young man he “could have gone either way. I went to school with three other kids… and all three ended up in jail.”
He attributed his success to mentors and “led me to want to help other people,” he said.
The police chief, in turn, dedicated his time to serving as a mentor himself. He reportedly worked at the Police Athletic League for 15 years, “helping kids, building kids, building their relationships. Working on some of their environmental factors by having the coaches as mentors,” according to the Associated Press.
Immediately after the shooting, a shelter-in-place order went into effect. On Sunday, the order was lifted. However, La Vergne police warned that they are “continuing our investigation efforts, but are asking everyone to remain vigilant.”
Nashville Mayor Freddy O'Connell issued a statement in support of the police chief.
“My heart goes out to Chief Drake, his family and the two injured LaVerne police officers. I know that despite our best efforts — including the early years — we cannot be responsible for the choices of family members,” said Mayor O'Connell. “I support Chief Drake and stand by him at this difficult time.”