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Manhunt continues for Nashville police chief’s son suspected in shooting of 2 Tennessee officers

These images provided by the City of La Vergne shows La Vergne Police Officers Ashely Boleyjack and Gregory Kern. Police in Tennessee were searching Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023 for the estranged son of Nashville's police chief as the suspect in the shooting of the two police officers outside a Dollar General store. (City of La Vergne via AP)

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (AP) — Police in Tennessee were searching Sunday for the estranged son of Nashville’s police chief as the suspect in the shooting of two police officers outside a Dollar General store.

Officers in La Vergne, a city about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Nashville, were investigating a stolen vehicle outside the store Saturday afternoon when they sruggled with the suspect, who pulled a handgun and shot them, said LaVergne Police Chief Christopher Moews.

Police identified the suspect as John C. Drake, Jr., 38, who is the son of Metro Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake.

One of the officers was shot twice, in the groin and right forearm, while the other officer was hit in the rear left shoulder. Both were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. One of the officers was released from the hospital Saturday night. The other officer was kept overnight for observation and was in stable condition, said Anne Smith, a spokesperson for the city of La Vergne. Their identities have not been released.

The police chief issued a statement Saturday confirming his son was the suspect in the shooting. Drake said they were estranged and over many years he has had only minimal contact with his son. The younger Drake is a convicted felon who “resorted to years of criminal activity,” he said.

“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,” Drake said in the statement.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a social media post that a statewide alert had been issued for Drake, who was wanted on two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Smith said about a dozen law enforcement agencies are involved in the search.

After the shooting, the La Vergne police issued a shelter-in-place order for residents in the city. The shelter order was later lifted while the search for Drake continued, the department said in a social media post.

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

“My heart goes out to Chief Drake, his family, and the two wounded LaVergne 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,” O’Connell said. “I support Chief Drake and stand by him at this difficult time. ”