NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Metro police officer was killed in a fiery crash while on-duty near downtown Nashville early Thursday morning.
The crash happened around 3:15 a.m. near Woodland Street and Interstate Drive.
Metro police identified the officer as four-year veteran of the force, 28-year-old John Anderson. He worked the overnight shift in downtown Nashville and was part of the department’s Drill and Ceremony team.
He joined the force on Nov. 1, 2014.
His patrol car was hit by a Ford Fusion driven by 17-year-old Jayona Brown, according to Metro police.
Brown sustained non-life threatening injuries in the crash. An 18-year-old passenger was taken to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The front end of Officer Anderson’s cruiser was heavily damaged and smoke was seen pouring from the hood just following the crash.
Around 3 a.m., a DUI officer saw the Ford Fusion coming toward him with its high beams on and turned on the cruiser’s flashing lights in an attempt to stop the car.
That officer activated his siren near Fifth Avenue and Main Street but the Ford took off toward downtown Nashville, according to Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron.
Aaron said the DUI officer then checked the license plate to see if the Ford was stolen but it had not and no pursuit of the vehicle was ever initiated.
According to Aaron, Officer Anderson was then driving outbound on Woodland Street to help another officer respond to a report of a pedestrian on nearby Interstate 24.
Metro police reported Anderson’s cruiser was hit “very, very hard” by the Ford Fusion on its driver’s side at the intersection of Woodland Street and Interstate Drive.
Officer Anderson’s cruiser was spun around in the intersection, where it came to rest against a utility pole and caught fire, according to Aaron.
Another officer came upon the scene shortly after the crash and called for assistance but Officer Anderson died at the scene.
Aaron specified Officer Anderson had a flashing yellow light at the intersection while 17-year-old Brown had a flashing red light.
Brown was released from the hospital and is now charged with reckless endangerment, felony evading, driving on a suspended license and vehicular homicide. She will also be charged with aggravated assault for the injury to her passenger and curfew violations.
Police said she was driving her aunt’s car at the time of the crash.
“Our hearts are heavy. Officer Anderson was a very well-liked individual,” said Aaron.
Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said he was no relation to Officer Anderson “by blood, but certainly by blue.”
“It’s a tragic day for Nashville, our police officers put so much on the on the line every single day to protect us. For this holiday to start on such a tragic note is just horrible,” said Mayor David Briley.
Briley released a statement on Officer Anderson’s death:
“Early this morning, Officer John Anderson tragically lost his life in the line of duty. Officer Anderson pledged his life to serve and protect us – a solemn duty that we can sometimes take for granted. His death today is a stark reminder of that pledge, and his service to our city will be forever remembered. Our officers are part of the fabric of this city, and I am eternally grateful for what they do every day, risking their lives to save others. I want to thank each of the brave men and women of our Metro Nashville Police Department. We should all be so lucky to have a police force like ours. When our city experiences tragedy, we come together as one community to support and lift each other up. I am sure that will happen now. My thoughts are with the family and friends of Officer John Anderson and our entire police force today.”
District Attorney Glenn Funk released a statement, which reads:
“We are heartbroken to learn about Officer John Anderson’s death. Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Anderson’s family and with the men and women of the Metro Nashville Police Department who put their lives on the line for our safety every day.”
Governor Bill Lee released a statement expressing his condolences:
Maria and I mourn the tragic passing of Nashville police officer John Anderson. We extend heartfelt thanks for his willingness to serve and offer prayers for his family, friends and fellow officers.
A moment of silence will be observed in downtown Nashville before Thursday night’s fireworks.
Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation released a statement, which reads:
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Officer John Anderson and the entire Metro Nashville Police family. Nashville is a very close community, and we come together in times of tragedy. In honor of Officer Anderson, we will open tonight’s July 4th event with a special moment of silence led by Mayor David Briley and Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson.”
In addition to being a four-year veteran of the police force, Officer Anderson had an 18-month-old son named Gavin. His girlfriend Katelyn’s sister released a statement:
“I want people to know that John loved Katelyn so much and they going to be engaged soon. And he took Katelyn’s son, Liam, in as his own and was an incredible father to him in addition to his own son, Gavin. He was truly a part of our family. I considered him a brother. He was a great friend and a true family man. He always pushed us to be better, just as he pushed himself. We are all better off for knowing him and being loved by him.“
Donations can be made at the Metro Police Community Credit Union in Donelson, which is located at 2711 Old Lebanon Road, Nashville, TN 37214. Please note the donation is for Officer John Anderson on the check.