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Nashville Chief’s Son Is Sought in Shooting of Two Officers

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The authorities in Tennessee were searching on Sunday for the estranged son of Nashville’s police chief, a day after the chief’s son was identified as the suspect in the shooting of two police officers outside a Dollar General store.

The officers were investigating a stolen vehicle Saturday afternoon in La Vergne, Tenn., about 20 miles southeast of Nashville, when they confronted the suspect outside the store, the La Vergne police chief, Christopher Moews, said at a news conference on Saturday. During a struggle, he said, the man shot the two officers with a handgun: one in the shoulder, and the other in the groin and forearm.

Later on Saturday, the La Vergne police identified the suspect as John C. Drake Jr., 38, and said he should be considered armed and dangerous. The police issued a shelter-in-place order before lifting it Saturday night.

Chief John Drake of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department confirmed in a statement on Saturday that the suspect was his estranged son, saying that the two had had “very minimal contact over many years.”

“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,” Chief Drake said. “He now needs to be found and held accountable for his actions today.”

The younger Mr. Drake is wanted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and the agency is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to his capture.

The injured officers, Ashley Boleyjack and Gregory Kern, were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment, the La Vergne police said in a statement. Officer Boleyjack was released later on Saturday. Officer Kern was kept overnight for observation and was in stable condition, the department said.

The search for John C. Drake Jr. continued on Sunday, said Anne Smith, a spokeswoman for the La Vergne Police Department.

Chief Drake was thrust into the national spotlight in March when an assailant breached the campus of the Covenant School, a private academy in Nashville, and killed three adults and three children. Chief Drake called for action on gun violence in an interview with CBS News shortly after the shooting.

“I will say to Nashville and the rest of the country: We have to do something with gun violence and mental illness,” he said. “Our kids are counting on this.”

Chief Drake had publicly supported gun control measures before the Covenant School shooting. Days before the shooting, he had written a letter to State Representative Clay Doggett, a Republican who leads a criminal justice subcommittee, in support of a bill that would require gun owners to secure weapons in parked vehicles and boats to prevent theft, according to The Tennessee Lookout.

“With gun ownership comes serious responsibility on several fronts, including securing guns,” Chief Drake wrote, “particularly in vehicles, so that they do not come into the hands of thieves/violent criminals.”

Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.

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