3 murder suicides in Middle Tennessee have advocates looking to red flag law


Three murder-suicides in less than a month have happened among married couples in Middle Tennessee.

Experts say there are laws in other states that could help prevent those kinds of deaths in Tennessee. It's called a gun violence restraining order or red flag law, and it removes guns from people who are considered a safety risk. After the latest domestic violence in Wilson County this week, some said Tennessee could use a law like that.

On Wednesday, an argument on a child's birthday took a violent turn in Wilson County, just outside Mount Juliet. Outside a Gwin Place home. Thomas East Adams shot and killed his wife Jessica Adams, and a history existed between them.

"He's been booked into the Wilson County Jail 18 times, covering a variety of charges but to include several domestic assaults, aggravated assault," said Lt. Scott Moore, of the Wilson County Sheriff's Office.

Adams later killed himself, leaving their two young children without parents.

"They're at an age where they may not fully understand what happened other than they know their mom and dad are not around," said Moore.

This crime is the third murder-suicide in Middle Tennessee in a month, and it's a pattern Safe Tennessee Project's Executive Director Beth Joslin Roth tracks for one reason.

"Unfortunately, what we know was the common denominator in all these cases was an angry man with easy access to a firearm," said Roth.

Roth said a gun violence restraining order or red flag law could help. It temporarily removes guns from someone who might be a threat to themselves or others.

"The idea being that a lot of time people are just having a bad day or a bad period of time and by removing firearms from the situation, tragedy can be averted," said Roth.

And in domestic violence, it could potentially save a life.

"Too often guns are used to resolve conflicts," said Roth.

Wilson County deputies said Thomas Adams and Jessica Adams were arrested before for domestic violence, and both had conditions on their release. But Jessica Adams' conditional release was changed so she could take her children to see their father on her child's birthday Wednesday, Moore said.

Deputies said the mother took her children inside the house right before the shooting. She came back out to finish the argument with Thomas Adams. Someone inside called 911, and deputies ended up hearing the argument and shots being fired over the radio. Jessica Adams was shot in the stomach and later died at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

When officers cornered Thomas Adams, they tried negotiating with him over the phone. But ultimately, he took his own life.

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