NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — John Drake Jr. had been on the run for days when he showed up in a ski mask in a Nashville neighborhood and asked a woman for a ride in her car. His face was all over “wanted” notices, a suspect in the shooting and wounding of two police officers near Nashville, where his father is the police chief. When the woman said she didn't have enough gas, Drake Jr. pulled out a pistol and stole her car.
About two hours after the carjacking on Tuesday, the chief's estranged son was dead.
A newly released recording of the carjacking victim's 911 call and bird’s-eye-view police video show some of Drake Jr.'s final movements. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is probing Drake Jr.'s death, and an autopsy is planned.
Drake Jr. crashed the stolen vehicle into another car, then ran through alleys and hopped fences into yards before breaking into a shed, according to video footage shot from a Nashville police helicopter that the department released Thursday. Police officers swarmed the area and heard one gunshot fired from the direction of the shed, the department said.
Drake Jr. became a “most wanted” suspect in the state after two La Vergne police officers, Ashley Boleyjack and Gregory Kern, were shot by a suspect Saturday while investigating a stolen vehicle outside a Dollar General store in their city about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Nashville. Both officers were treated and released.
Drake Jr., who had been wanted on two counts of attempted first-degree murder, was the son of Metro Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake. The chief issued a statement Saturday confirming his 38-year-old son was the suspect in the shooting. Drake said his son had not been part of his life for some time and that they had “very minimal” contact over many years.
Drake Jr.'s mother, Veleria East, pleaded before news cameras for Drake Jr. to turn himself, and said he could reach out to her.
Before the carjacking Tuesday, Drake Jr. asked a man in a front yard for a ride, but the man said he did not drive, according to police. Then he approached the woman and stole her car.
“He asked me for a ride. I told him I don’t have any gas and I can’t go anywhere,” the woman told a 911 operator in the call provided to the AP in a public records request. “He just told me to get out of the car at gunpoint.”
The 2.5 minute-long helicopter video footage from Tuesday follows Drake in the car, while an officer noted his every movement. As the driver's side door of the stolen vehicle opened, Drake Jr. crashed into a parked car, and got out and ran.
He sprinted down an alleyway, hopped fences in and out of a backyard, took to another alley to jump a fence into another yard, then wandered around looking for somewhere to hide. He tried to kick in one door of the shed, then found another that opened. The video cuts off before showing officers surrounding the area.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Drake Jr. was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Afterward, his father thanked officers for their work tracking down Drake Jr. But he also said he had prayed that no one would be harmed, including his son.
“I am heartbroken and saddened by the outcome,” the chief said in a statement Tuesday. “I appreciate the condolences and kind words of support as my family and I privately mourn our loss.”
Drake, a Black law enforcement leader who has spent much of his career steering young people away from crime, said his son was involved in criminal activity for years despite his fatherly “efforts and guidance in the early and teenage years.” He called for his son to be found and held accountable.
Drake Jr. pleaded guilty to felonies for a 2008 aggravated rape and a 2017 aggravated assault, court records show. He has faced a variety of criminal charges over a span of more than 17 years, with a mix of convictions and dismissals, and spent years in prison.