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Nashville’s police chief spent his entire career mentoring young people, but couldn’t keep his son out of trouble.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Police Chief John Drake has spent much of his career trying to guide young…

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Police Chief John Drake has spent much of his career trying to keep young people away from crime. Inspired by the mentors who helped him in his youth, Drake tried to pay it forward.

But unfortunately, he failed to protect his own son from trouble.

John C. Drake Jr., 38, is accused of shooting two police officers outside a Dollar General store in nearby La Vergne Saturday afternoon. He was still the subject of a manhunt Monday and police said they considered him armed and dangerous.

Officers Ashely Boleyjack and Gregory Kern were investigating a stolen vehicle outside the store when they struggled with the suspect, who pulled out a handgun and shot them, the La. police chief said. Vergne, Christopher Moews. Both officers were treated and released from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Chief Drake released a statement Saturday confirming his son was the suspect in the shooting. Drake said he was estranged from his son and had minimal contact with him for many years. The younger Drake is a convicted felon who “has resorted to years of criminal activity,” he said.

“He must now be found and held accountable for his actions,” Drake said in the statement.

The elder Drake grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Nashville where he credits several mentors, including coaches and a neighbor, with helping him succeed. In a police-made video discussing his early life, Drake said that as a young man he “could have gone either way.” I walked to school with three other kids…and all three ended up going to jail.

The experience with those early models “led me to want to help other people, too,” he said.

Drake is particularly interested in the use of the police force as a means of keeping young people out of trouble. As an officer, he worked for 15 years in the Police Athletic League, “helping kids, building kids, building their relationships.” Working on some of their environmental factors by having coaches as mentors,” he said in 2020 when interviewing for the police chief position. Today, some of those kids play professional sports or work as teachers or principals, he said.

Drake, who was already acting chief at the time, said he abolished so-called “flex squads” that worked as crime suppression units and used tactics such as arresting people for minor traffic violations.

“I wanted to move away from the warrior mentality to the guardian mentality,” he said. “We’re here to help. We want to have a movie night with you. We want an ice cream day. We want to tutor you and get to know your family.

Drake had his officers travel through communities and get to know the people. He wanted them to “get into these neighborhoods – walk, talk, play basketball,” he said. “Also think about tutoring children. How can we influence them at an early stage?

The chief did not immediately respond to an interview request from The Associated Press.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a social media post Saturday that a statewide alert had been issued for John C. Drake Jr., wanted on two counts of attempted murder in the first degree. Anne Smith, a spokeswoman for the city of La Vergne, said about a dozen law enforcement agencies were involved in the search.

Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell issued a statement in support of the police chief.

“My thoughts are with Chief Drake, his family and the two injured LaVergne police officers. I know that despite our best efforts – including during their early years – we cannot be responsible for the choices of family members,” O’Connell said. “I stand with Chief Drake and support him during these difficult times. »

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.


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