Metro police are searching for a 17-year-old gunman accused of shooting and killing a high school student Thursday morning as he left his home to go to a nearby bus stop.
The shooting was reported around 6:40 a.m. in the 1900 block of 10th Avenue North, near Clay Street.
Police said the shooter, who has been identified as Eric Goodner, was sitting in a vacant lot and appeared to be waiting for the victim identified as Johnathan Johnson.
Metro police told Nashville's News 2 Johnson was shot in the neck.
"Everybody inside said they heard a gunshot and they came outside and he was laying on the ground," older brother Rory Johnson said.
Johnathan Johnson was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in critical condition and was pronounced dead around 7:20 a.m.
Investigators are questioning multiple witnesses.
School officials read a statement from the principal of Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School at the hospital.
The statement read, "Today the Pearl-Cohn family lost one of our own. We had a student who was fatally shot in the community this morning. The student was a young man who was friendly, kind and had a bright future."
The statement continued, "Our school community is responding to the needs of our students with grief counseling and additional support. The family of the victim has asked that their privacy be respected. I would like to thank Metro School Security, support staff, and local law enforcement for the quick response and support of our students as we grieve this loss."
Officials added there was no indication that there was any type of incident involving Johnson at school prior to the shooting. A motive remains unclear.
Johnson is one of eight siblings and had recently just become an uncle family members told Nashville's News 2.
"It's hard going through this right now, but I'm trying to stay strong for my sisters and for the family," Rory Johnson said. "It's kind of rough on the family. It is especially on my grandmother and all the elders of the family. They're trying to hold themselves together."
Grief counselors will be available to students on Thursday.
Goodner was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. He fled the scene on foot.
Police said Goodner, who was last known to have lived on 26th Avenue North, is considered to be armed and dangerous.
Metro Police said Thursday evening the shooting could be gang related, though Johnson's family said he was not gang affiliated.
It is possible Goodner has gang ties.
Metro Police started its gang unit in 2004 to combat gang activity in Davidson County. Sergeant Gary Kemper led the unit until recently when he took over the Cold Case Unit in Metro Police's Department.
"When we started it back in '04 we didn't know a whole lot so it took a few years to develop our knowledge of what was going on in the streets," he said. "As we went on we built a good base of information as a police department which helped us ID these gang members."
The department also started Operation Safer Streets.
Three times a week officers and supervisors from all of Nashville's seven precincts work to combat gang crime along with Specialized Investigations Division.
So far this year the operation has resulted in 868 arrests on 40 felony charges, 810 arrests on misdemeanor charges, six gun seizures, the service of 203 outstanding warrants, 74 field interviews of people believed to have gang knowledge and 4,287 vehicle stops in areas with gang presence.
"We always strive to go into areas gang members are in," Sgt. Kemper said. "A lot of times these gang members don't live there they just hang out there."
Sgt. Kemper said the pressure to join gangs can be strong among children who feel left out at school or at home.
"Not every kid can be a star quarterback and not every kid can be in the band, but every kid wants to be a part of something," he said.
Kemper said the average age for gang members in Nashville is 21 years old, which is older than the national average.
He also said, gangs in Nashville are not as well organized as in other metropolitan areas and children who reject gangs typically do not face retaliation.
"Sometimes being a parent is being a little tough on your kids and you need know who their friends are," he said. "If your child comes home only using nicknames for friends, that is an indicator or if your child comes home and is scribbling little gang signs."