NASHVILLE, Tenn (WKRN)– It’s been five years since a homeless man was shot near Music Row.
The woman who pulled the trigger says it was self-defense, but she’s facing an attempted first-degree murder charge. Her trial began in Davidson County Court this week.
Katie Quackenbush took the stand Tuesday morning to tell her side of the story.
In August 2017, Quackenbush and a friend were parked on 19th Avenue near Music Row after a night out. Quackenbush testified that they were listening to music when a homeless man approached her white SUV and began yelling and cursing at them.
“It was very intense. The guy was very unhinged,” Quackenbush said.
Eventually, the man, later identified as Gerald Melton, walked away. When they thought the coast was clear, Quackenbush says she grabbed her gun to walk her friend to her car which was parked behind her SUV.
“So I grabbed my firearm not to go shoot him, not to go be an aggressor. I grabbed my firearm so that if I was outside of my car walking her to her car I would at least have something. Because I didn’t want to be stuck outside with that man and not have something to protect myself,” Quackenbush said.
As Quackenbush got out of the car, she says Melton came running towards her screaming derogatory names.
She said to him “I have a firearm,” but he didn’t back down and allegedly lunged at her. That’s when Quackenbush says she fired two shots in his direction and ran back to her car.
She told the jury she didn’t think the bullets had hit him. Then she and her friend drove to Taco Bell. Quackenbush did not call 911.
Melton’s testimony tells a different story.
In a recording played in the courtroom Tuesday, Melton explained he was trying to sleep in the area where Quackenbush was parked that night, and the exhaust from her SUV was bothering him.
“I was trying to be polite about it and just ask if they would either park or move on or something,” Melton said. “I never approached their vehicle or made any threatening gestures towards them or moved towards them. I just walked up the sidewalk and looked in the window.”
Melton said he and Quackenbush got into a verbal argument. Eventually, he walked away, but when he turned around he says Quackenbush was pointing a pistol at him.
“She didn’t tell me anything, except she asked if I wanted to die tonight,” Melton said. “Then I saw blood and I realized she shot me and then that’s when she fired another shot that hit me in the side here.”
Melton was transported to a local hospital and has since recovered from his injuries.
Quackenbush maintains she fired the shots in self-defense — something she said she never imagined she’d have to do in her lifetime.
“I bought my gun for self-defense and I never wanted to have to use it, and that night I did. Something that you never think will happen to you happens really, really [expletive] fast,” Quackenbush said.
In the week following the shooting Quackenbush’s lawyer called the Nashville District Attorney’s Office to tell them about her involvement in the case. She was arrested and has been out on bond for the last five years.
Court resumes Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m.