NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Members of the Metro Nashville Police Department worked together to arrest a man who allegedly stole and crashed two cars in the same crime spree Wednesday evening.
News 2 has obtained aerial surveillance video shot by an MNPD helicopter following the carjacking suspect — identified by authorities as Elijah Malik McDowell, a convicted felon on probation out of Rutherford County — on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
The video shows the 27-year-old driving a Dodge Charger that he reportedly stole at gunpoint on Murfreesboro Pike. McDowell lost control on Interstate 440 after running over spike strips set out by officers, so the vehicle spun off into the median and rolled over.
In the footage, you can see the ex-con climbing out of the vehicle, running to a fence, hopping over it, and fleeing into another neighborhood. That’s where McDowell came across a 70-year-old man picking up his granddaughters, ages 3 and 7, from daycare.
News 2 caught up with Luis Mena and his granddaughters to hear the story in their own words. Mena doesn’t speak much English, so News 2’s bilingual cameraman translated for him.
“You don’t have to do harm to anybody, especially babies,” Mena said, referring to the man who allegedly pulled a gun and fought Mena to get his truck, with his two granddaughters inside.
According to Mena, McDowell came out of the woodline, attacked him, and pulled him from the driver’s seat: “He started hitting me so that I would get out of the truck, so I started fighting, he grabbed my shirt, and he pulled me out and he took me down, and I managed to balance myself out and I didn’t want him to take the truck with the girls inside. That’s when he pulled out the gun and tried to hit me with it, and I grabbed him. That’s when he lost control of the gun, and that’s when he accelerated and he took off. One of the girls cried, so I ran towards them to embrace them.”
While the 70-year-old grandfather was fighting the 27-year-old ex-con, the quick-thinking 7-year-old, Amy, got her baby sister, Stephanie, to safety.
“That guy got into the car, then I took my sister off the car. We both jumped together…She was so happy that I saved her,” Amy recalled.
Amy said the experience was very scary, but she agreed when News 2’s Andy Cordan called her and her grandfather heroes.
With the family safely out of the truck, McDowell took off in Mena’s Toyota Tundra pickup truck.
However, MNPD’s chopper was right on top of the action, relaying McDowell’s exact position to ground units pursuing the ex-con. The chase ended about half a mile away on Sadler Avenue.
According to police, McDowell crashed the truck and got out on the railroad tracks, where a K9 team took him down.
While meeting with News 2 two days after the incident, Amy and Stephanie hugged and kissed their grandpa, thanking him for protecting them from danger.
When asked if he thought God was watching over him and his grandkids, Mena looked to the sky and smiled: “Thank you, my God. Because that man didn’t shoot me or the girls.”
Mena said he fell back and hit his head during the fight, but neither he nor his granddaughters were injured.
“I don’t believe I’m brave, but in those moments you act,” Mena added.
As for McDowell, after going to the hospital to be treated for the dog bites on his foot, he was booked into Metro Jail on Thursday, Oct. 26, where he is being held on a $211,000 bond.
Officials said he has been charged with two counts of carjacking, two counts of felony evading arrest, unlawful gun possession by a convicted felon, gun use during the commission of a violent felony, possessing a “Glock switch” that makes a gun fully automatic, aggravated assault for driving at the two children, reckless driving, resisting arrest, and driving on a revoked license.