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Metro Police officer dead, suspect in custody after fiery crash in East Nashville

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A 17-year-old girl has been charged in connection with the death of a Metro Police officer in a fiery crash downtown on Thursday morning.

Metro Police Officer John Anderson

Metro Police Officer John Anderson (Photo: Metro Nashville Police Department)

Officer John Anderson, 28, who has been assigned to Central Precinct since joining the force more than four years ago, died in a crash just after 3 a.m. in the intersection of Woodland Street and Interstate Drive near Nissan Stadium.

“Officer Anderson was a big part of this police department,” Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said at a press conference Thursday morning. “Officers who work around him, even those that don’t know him, are obviously very disturbed.”

“Our police officers put so much on the line every single day to protect us,” Nashville Mayor David Briley said at the press conference. “For this holiday to start on such a tragic note, it’s just horrible. We count on our police department, every single officer, to keep us safe. This young man was out there doing that last night and in a split second it was all taken away from him and his family.”

“He was a very dedicated officer, worked extremely hard,” said Central Precinct Commander Gordon Howey. “He died doing what he loved to do. I’ve spoken to both of his parents and they echoed that sentiment. This is what he wanted to do.”

Police said a Ford Fusion driven by 17-year-old Jayona Brown was traveling south on Interstate Drive after fleeing a possible traffic stop on Main Street and crashed into Anderson’s patrol car in the intersection at Woodland Street.

Anderson’s patrol car slammed into a light pole at the intersection and caught fire. He died at the scene.

Police said at the time of the crash that the traffic signals at the intersection were in flash mode. The lights were flashing red on Interstate Drive and flashing yellow on Woodland Street. Cars traveling on Woodland Street would have right-of-way.

Brown was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical center and was treated and released. After her release, she was taken into custody by police and charged with vehicular homicide by recklessness, felony evading arrest, aggravated assault by recklessness, driving on a suspended license and juvenile curfew violation. She was expected to appear in Davidson County Juvenile Court on Friday, but the hearing has been postponed to a later date.

Antona Esaw, the passenger in the car with Brown, was critically injured and taken to TriStar Skyline Medical Center.

Police said Anderson was en route to assist another officer with a pedestrian walking along Interstate 24 when the accident occurred.

Brown was allegedly fleeing from police after a Metro Police DUI Unit officer in an unmarked car attempted a traffic stop on Main Street near Fifth Street.

The officer had spotted the Ford Fusion driving with its bright lights on near the intersection of Gallatin Pike and Ordway Place. The officer turned around and followed the car.

When the officer approached the intersection of Main Street and 10th Street, he activated his lights and attempted to pull over the car.

The driver of the car slowed down and pulled into the right lane but did not stop.

As the officer reached Fifth Street, he activated his siren. The driver of the Fusion sped away from the officer.

The officer decided not to pursue the car because it was not reported stolen. Police said the car belonged to Brown’s aunt.

The officer saw the car turn from Main Street/James Robertson Parkway onto Interstate Drive. That officer drove up on the crash scene and radioed for assistance.

Anderson had been assigned to Central Precinct for his entire career. He was a member of the department’s Drill and Ceremony team. He was a bagpiper. He participated in the ceremony of Officer Eric Mumaw, who drowned while on call in February 2017.

Nashville Fire Department and TBI joined many other agencies and officials Thursday morning offering their condolences in Metro Police's loss of Anderson.

The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. will hold a moment of silence to honor Anderson at the opening ceremony of Let Freedom Sing! in downtown Nashville at 5:45 p.m.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Officer John Anderson and the entire Metro Nashville Police family. Nashville is a very close community, and we come together in times of tragedy. In honor of Officer Anderson, we will open tonight’s July 4th event with a special moment of silence led by Mayor David Briley and Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson," Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. President/CEO Butch Spyridon said in a statement.

People have been stopping by throughout Thursday morning and leaving items at a make-shift memorial at the crash site. Non-profit organization Foundation for Fallen Officers of Tennessee told News4 that they are planning to reach out and make a monetary donation to Anderson's family.

Anderson was a 2013 graduate of Western Kentucky University, was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He leaves behind a girlfriend and an 18-month-old son. Funeral arrangements have not yet been set. A GoFundMe account has been set up to support the education fund created for Anderson's 18-month-old son. 

Anyone wishing to contribute to a fund for Anderson's son's education may send a check to the MPD Community Credit Union at 2711 Old Lebanon Rd., Nashville, TN 37214. You can also send condolences to Metro Police by emailing mnpdassistance@nashville.gov. All condolences will be printed and placed into a binder for Officer Anderson's family.

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A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send Ethan story ideas, food recommendations and sports debate topics to Ethan.Illers@wsmv.com and follow him on Twiiter @ethanWSMV!

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