LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The search continues for an “armed and extremely dangerous” man who reportedly shot two police officers outside a La Vergne store Saturday.
Authorities said the suspected shooter is Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake’s “estranged son,” John C. Drake Jr., who has been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s (TBI) Most Wanted List. A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered for information leading to his arrest.
He was reportedly last seen heading north on Stones River Road from the Dollar General, wearing a hat, a black T-shirt with a white hockey mask emblem on the front with red lettering, and gray pants. The TBI described him as 38 years old, 5-feet 11-inches tall, and 195 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
The La Vergne Police Department (LVPD) eventually lifted the “shelter in place” order for residents of the Lake Forest subdivision, but the community is asked to remain vigilant as the search for John Drake Jr. continues. He is not believed to still be in the immediate area.
“La Vergne Police, they don’t play,” La Vergne resident E.J Jacques said. “They’ll have this whole city blocked off in two seconds, so like if they ain’t catch him the day it happened, then I don’t know if they’re going to catch them.”
The LVPD said two officers were called to the Dollar General in the 600 block of Stones River Road shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21 to investigate a stolen vehicle flagged by the city’s license plate reader software.
According to authorities, the officers ended up in a struggle with a man who pulled out a handgun and fired at the officers.
Officials in a Saturday afternoon press conference said one of the officers, who has been with the department for nearly three years, suffered a gunshot wound to the rear left shoulder while the other, who has been with the LVPD for about 18 months, was shot in the right groin and right forearm.
The injured officers were identified on Sunday, Oct. 22 as Officer Ashely Boleyjack and Officer Gregory Kern.
Boleyjack was released from Vanderbilt University Medical Center Saturday while Kern was kept overnight for observation, even though he was in stable condition, the city announced Sunday morning. However, by Sunday afternoon, Kern was also released from the hospital, according to La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole.
A mother and daughter, who didn’t want to share their identities out of concern for their safety, strung balloons outside of the Dollar General Sunday, wanting to support Boleyjack and Kern.
“It’s nothing that’s much, but we just want to show them that we’re supporting them as much as we can, and hopefully this is enough for them,” the daughter said.
“They’re better than what this person done to them, and they can fight through this and they will hopefully, God willing, this person will get caught and they’ll serve their time,” her mom added.
Meanwhile, Chief John Drake released the following statement Saturday evening about his son’s connection to the shooting:
I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn that my estranged son, with whom I have had very minimal contact over many years, is the suspect in this afternoon’s shooting of the two La Vergne police officers. My thoughts and prayers are with the two officers, who I understand are now in stable condition at Vanderbilt.
Despite my efforts and guidance in the early and teenage years, my son, John Drake Jr., now 38-years-old, resorted to years of criminal activity and is a convicted felon. He has not been a part of my life for quite some time. He now needs to be found and held accountable for his actions today. I hope that anyone who sees him or has information about him will contact law enforcement immediately.Chief John Drake, Metro Nashville Police Department
Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell also issued a response in the aftermath of the shooting, saying, “My heart goes out to Chief Drake, his family, and the two wounded La Vergne police officers. I know that despite our best efforts — including in their early years — we can’t be responsible for the choices of family members. I support Chief Drake and stand by him at this difficult time. He is the right Chief of Police for Nashville.”
In addition, La Vergne Police Chief Christopher Moews shared a statement Sunday morning, which reads:
We are eternally grateful to the men and women who showed up to assist us in our time of need, especially to our La Vergne Fire Rescue Department who was the first on the scene to render medical aid to our officers. We appreciate all of the support from our community and their cooperation throughout last night as we searched the area for our suspect.Chief Christopher Moews, La Vergne Police Department
The TBI issued a Blue Alert late Saturday night for John Drake Jr., who is wanted for two counts of attempted first-degree murder. The agency said he should be considered “armed and extremely dangerous.”
Multiple local and state law enforcement agencies across Middle Tennessee are assisting with the search for John Drake Jr., officials said.
If you see anyone matching the suspect’s description, you are asked to call 911. If you have any information about Saturday’s shooting or John Drake Jr.’s whereabouts, reach out to the LVPD at 615-793-7744 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.