News4 Investigates: Assistant director of youth facility under criminal investigation after teens crash car

News4 Investigates has learned Wilson County Sheriff’s deputies are gathering evidence in hopes of charging the Youth Opportunity Employee who chased four teens
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 3:05 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (WSMV) - The assistant director of a youth facility is under criminal investigation after four teens escaped Saturday night and crashed a car, News4 Investigates has confirmed.

The assistant director, whose name was redacted in an incident report by the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office because he has not been charged with a crime, is under investigation not because of how the teens escaped, but because of what happened when the juveniles later crashed a stolen car.

The four juveniles escaped Saturday night and later crashed near a home in Wilson County.

News4 Investigates has learned Wilson County Sheriff’s deputies are gathering evidence in hopes of charging the Youth Opportunity Employee who chased four teens who’d escaped from the Rosewood Youth Academy in Nashville.

Home security footage now only shows the crash, but also the four teens escaping, pursued by someone who fired a gun.

A narrative of the investigation into the crash, obtained by News4 Investigates, showed when deputies arrived at the crash scene on Beckwith Road near Mount Juliet, the assistant director of the Walnut-Rosewood Youth Academy said the four stole the car of a worker at the facility.

The assistant director told deputies that he began following in his 2007 silver Lexus, and that “they drove at high rates of speed” before the vehicle crashed.

“Why was (the assistant director) chasing? Why was there a gun? Those are my questions,” Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan told News 4 Investigates.

That assistant director told deputies he did not have a gun, nor did he see a gun during the events of the crash.

The narrative reads that the security video shows the person pursuing the teens after the crash was wearing a shirt and jeans that matched the clothing worn by the assistant director.

One of the teenagers identified the assistant director as the person who had fired a shot at him and the others.

A Mount Juliet family told News4 they are counting their blessings after a car almost crashed into their home.

One of the teenagers, who told police he was not driving the stolen vehicle, also told deputies that after one of the passengers threw a bottle of wine out of the vehicle, the assistant director “appeared to be shooting a firearm at them on Beckwith Road. This led the driver to speed up and crash …”

The narrative reads that no weapon was found when the assistant director was patted down, and he was adamant that he did not fire a weapon at the juveniles.

The security video appeared to show the person chasing the teens shooting up in the air, not directly at the juveniles.

The narrative reads as deputies continued to ask questions, the assistant director’s “demeanor changed when he was asked about the possibility of him having a weapon. He began to ramble and said a lot of things happened, so he was unclear about some of the events.”

When deputies read his Miranda rights, the assistant director, “stated he did not want to speak with me further concerning this incident, without a lawyer present.”

The narrative reads that deputies did search the assistant director’s car and found no weapon, but a glove box that was locked.

Deputies said that the assistant director said he had just purchased the car and did not have a key to the glove box, only a fob to start the car.

The assistant director’s Lexus was then towed to the sheriff’s tow lot.

Bryan told News4 Investigates that Tuesday afternoon investigators obtained a search warrant to inspect the car and will turn over their findings to the district attorney’s office.

“I do expect some criminal charges to come out of this. It is reckless. This whole incident is reckless. Somebody needs to answer for this,” Bryan said.

A spokesman for the Department of Children Services wrote in a statement to News4 Investigates, “DCS has launched a full investigation of the incident that occurred on Saturday night between a contracted vendor and youth in custody. We are deeply concerned by the provider’s action and will have more to say when the investigation is complete.”

News4 Investigates shared the police report with Youth Opportunities, but it denied our request for an interview.

The spokesman referred to a previously released statement that did not address News4 Investigates’ questions.

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