BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) – Twenty years ago, gunfire erupted in the middle of the busy intersection of Old Hickory Boulevard and Franklin Road in Brentwood.
The suspect drove from California to Middle Tennessee robbing banks along the way, including a failed attempt in Nashville. He ended his spree at the Bank of America in Brentwood.
“Nothing ever happened in Brentwood,” retired Brentwood Police Captain Tommy Campsey recalled. “That changed everybody’s thinking.”
Bravery amongst a brotherhood was on full display.
“We’re lucky to be here there’s no doubt,” said Police Chief Richard Hickey.
Six minutes changed May 6th, 2002 forever.
“I can remember standing in the middle of Franklin Road after all the gunfire had stopped and I looked up,” Campsey said. “I remember seeing a helicopter circling above us and it was like I was in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.”
Then officer Stephanie Bellis was the first to arrive.
“When I came up Franklin Road I saw Stephanie in a gun battle with the bank robber,” remembered Jimmy Campbell, Captain of Technical Support for Bentwood PD. “I saw her back peddling through the intersection in front of her car exchanging gunfire and then she dove behind another vehicle. I backed up my patrol car just to create a little bit of distance between myself and [the shooter], that’s when Sgt. [Tommy] Walsh proceeded past me because he didn’t know where Stephanie was.”
The second battle in Brentwood was about to begin.
“Then I hear his gunfire,” Campsey said.
Over the police radio, words of warning rang out over the air. “Sarg’ get out of there! He’s right behind you! He’s behind you!”
“At that time, Chief Hickey rolled up, and next thing you know, he’s by my side,” Campbell said.
“I’ve got my door open and my gun across trying to get a shot on him,” Campsey said. “I just gotta stop it.”
Another alert on the radio. “Get me an ambulance up here right now! We got an officer down! A suspect has been injured.”
“I can remember people bailing out of their cars in the middle of Franklin Road,” Hickey said.
“I get to the car door and I pull back to see if [the suspect] is still moving and that’s when I saw him take his last breath,” Campsey recalled. “I thank God for that. The gunfire stopped and we were all alive.”
Yet injured, Bellis was shot in the forearm and Walsh in the thigh.
“The blood was flowing like crazy,” Campsey remembered. “I mean it was profuse.”
“[Walsh] said to me how bad is it?” Campbell recalled. “And I said, ‘you’re going to be ok.’ And he said, ‘don’t lie to me, Jimmy.'”
“I remember we stopped and said a prayer in the middle of the street,” Hickey added.
Both officers survived. Bellis, now Warner, has a beautiful family. Walsh retired in 2020 as the Assistant Chief.
Steve Walling passed in 2019.
“He was the best man at my wedding,” Campsey said of Walling. “And he was standing beside me on that day.”
The group is forever grateful for each other and the community that rallied around them.
“Now we have rifles,” Hickey said. “We have rifles because the community raised their hand and said ‘I’ll write a check. What do you need?'”
The day bullets flew in Brentwood turned for good.
“All the little things in the world that you’re worried about,” Hickey said. “Didn’t matter anymore. It really brings it down to what’s important.”