Wilson County law enforcement holds annual memorial service

Mt. Juliet and Lebanon police officers and Wilson County sheriff’s deputies came together Thursday to honor fallen law enforcement officers throughout Wilson County’s history.

The ceremony kicked off National Police Week, which will culminate Tuesday with the National Police Week Memorial Service in Washington, D.C.

The ceremony, held in Judge Barry Tatum’s courtroom, also included a presentation to the family of fallen Lebanon police Officer Joe Bowen, who died in March when he drove into a creek on the way home from work.

State Sen. Mark Pody, State Rep. Clark Boyd and State Sen. Susan Lynn presented Bowen’s family with a proclamation that honored their fallen family member.

“We just wanted to let you know how sorry you are,” said Lynn. “In the General Assembly, we always pause and we pray for our first responders. I’m left speechless, because I come from a family that suffered the loss of a police officer, and I know the pain you’re going through. It doesn’t make sense, but God has a plan, and it doesn’t feel like that at all, but God does have a plan.”

Mt. Juliet police Chief James Hambrick, Lebanon police Chief Mike Justice and Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan read the names of officers who died in the line of duty in Wilson County.

• Mt. Juliet police Sgt. Jerry Mundy died July 9, 2003.

• Wilson County sheriff’s Deputy John Musice died July 9, 2003.

• Wilson County sheriff’s Sgt. Wiley Williams died Jan. 25, 1974.

• Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Oscar Morris died May 9, 1956.

• Wilson County Constable Ben Northern died Sept. 4, 1932.

• Wilson County Sheriff Harold Griffin died April 6, 1954.

• Wilson County sheriff’s Deputy John Oakley died Jan. 3, 1923.

• Wilson County constable’s deputy Millard Brown died Sept. 4, 1932.

• Lebanon police Chief Robert Nolen died March 16, 2016.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Community rallies for deputy with cancer

Law enforcement members converge for Team Cagle event

Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos
Law enforcement officers and other community members came together to support former Mt. Juliet police officer and Wilson County sheriff’s Deputy Justin Cagle, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer about three or four years ago.

Police officers and community members from across Middle Tennessee came together Saturday to support Wilson County sheriff’s deputy and former Mt. Juliet police officer Justin Cagle.

Cagle was diagnosed with testicular cancer about three or four years ago. He had surgery to have it removed. But about six months ago, he found out the cancer had come back in a different area.

According to Cagle’s friend and former coworker Bill Toy, who now owns OTG Tactical, a law enforcement training company, the event was largely put together by Lynn Toy and Alyssa Dillard.

“When we became aware of the fact that Justin’s cancer had resurfaced, there was a push by MJPD and WCSO and his friends to all try and help,” said Toy. “James Cothron, Jeremy Reich and myself decided we could do much more good by working together to have one large event. Lynn stepped forward to organize and plan the event and Alyssa worked overtime to bring in 90 percent of all of our auction items. It really grew beyond anything we could have hoped for. [Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto] was kind enough to open our event and has been a steadfast supporter.”

The event Saturday featured live music, face painting, concessions for sale, a silent auction and a shooting competition.

Cagle said people had approached him several times about putting an event together, and he had turned them down, but he agreed to this event as long as it also raised money for the family of Lebanon police officer Joe Bowen, who died in March when he drove into a creek on his way home from work.

“I didn’t want any kind of attention or anything for this,” said Cagle. “Law enforcement is a tight brotherhood, and they put this fundraiser together. I felt so blessed, I wanted to put something toward other people.”

The proceeds from the sale of all the food at the benefit went to benefit Bowen’s family.

According to Toy, more than 200 people came out to the event, and many more gave donations even though they couldn’t attend.

“It was extremely heartwarming to see the response of our community. The way citizens and businesses came together to help and show support for these officers was just absolutely amazing,” said Toy. “We had one gentleman who walked up as we were setting up and asked if this was the benefit for the officers. When we answered yes, he pulled out a $100 bill, handed it to us and then walked away.”

Both Cagle and Toy talked about the brotherhood and camaraderie between law enforcement, event officers in another county.

“Cops predominantly work alone until something bad threatens us,” said Toy. “I have been on calls where we needed help and within minutes, five different agencies had responded and jumped in to give aid so I wasn’t surprised by the overwhelming response by middle Tennessee officers wanting to do anything they could to help Justin. We had donations from Brentwood PD, Murfreesboro PD, Rutherford County SWAT and many others outside of Wilson County. Justin has a well-earned reputation as a cop’s cop. He is always first through the door and eats, drinks and sleeps being a cop. After we lost [Bowen], Justin wanted to know how we could use this benefit to help his family, so we expanded it to include supporting officer Bowen’s family. It is very much a family.”

Sponsors for the event included Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Mt. Juliet Police Department, OTG – Tactical, D&D Events, Fugitive Extradition, Lannom & Williams, Wes Dugan, Brody and Angel Kane, ASSES Security Services, Agent Automotive, Barrett Firearms and Outpost Armory.

Signs Now Lebanon did the banner for the event for free, Ralph Hix headed up the donation of all the food, Edgefield Meat donated all the hamburgers, Lynn Powell donated all the chips, Leon Basford cooked all the food, and the entertainment was donated by Jackie Deville, Maddie Walker and Sonic Voodoo.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Hollywood Memorial Riders roll through Wilson County headed to DC

Group makes stops at two Mt. Juliet schools

Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos
The Hollywood Memorial Ride came through Wilson County on Tuesday and stopped at several local schools.

The Hollywood Memorial Ride came through Wilson County on Tuesday, and students at Springdale Elementary School, West Elementary School, Coles Ferry Elementary School and Walter J. Baird Middle School greeted the riders and cheered them on their way.

The Hollywood Memorial Ride is a group of four Los Angeles police officers who bicycle more than 2,980 miles from Hollywood, California to the National Police Week Memorial Services in Washington, D.C.

The goal of the trek is not only to pay tribute to the 146 law enforcement officers who are killed in the line of duty each year on average, but also raise awareness of their sacrifice and raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

The officers stopped first at Springdale, then West elementary schools. They also rode through an area near Walter J. Baird Middle School and Coles Ferry Elementary School, where students lined the street to cheer for them.

Members of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Lebanon Police Department, Mt. Juliet Police Department and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency helped escort the officers through the county.

“All schools provided them with words of encouragement and refreshments,” said Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore. “It’s great to see a community come together, such as this, to give honor and respect to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice by serving and protecting their communities.”

The four officers concluded their trip through Wilson County with lunch at the Lebanon Police Department Emergency Services Unit headquarters, then the four officers continued their journey to Washington, D.C.

“This was the second year we were able to help escort the group through the city, and we certainly enjoy being able to contribute to their cause as they ride in honor of fallen law enforcement officers,” said Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler.

“We are honored to witness and be a part of this incredible journey and wish the riders well as they continue on to Washington for next week’s ceremonies,” said Lebanon police Sgt. P.J. Hardy.

To follow along with the four officers’ journey, visit the Hollywood Memorial Ride Facebook page.

By Jacob Smith 

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Disturbing Facebook Live video leads to suspect charged

Lonie Baggatta

A suspect is in jail after Mt. Juliet police were made aware of a disturbing Facebook Live video early Saturday morning that broadcast a man who was threatened with a handgun in real time.

Officers launched an investigation at about 2 a.m. and searched for the victim threatened in the video. The investigation led to a home in the 1400 block of Brighton Circle, which was identified as the location of the live broadcast.

Unaware of the armed man’s intention, Mt. Juliet’s special response and crisis negotiation teams responded to the home to resolve the incident. Through their work, the suspect, victim and a woman willingly exited the home.

The suspect, a convicted felon, was identified as Lonnie Baggatta, 34, of Old Hickory. Further investigation also led to the discovery of marijuana and handgun used in the video.

During the incident, four homes were evacuated as a precaution while the special response team operated in the area. The neighbors were housed briefly in the neighborhood clubhouse. Mt. Juliet firefighters and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency first responders provided stand-by assistance.

Baggatta was charged with aggravated assault, convicted felon in possession of a handgun and simple possession of marijuana. He was booked in at the Wilson County Jail on $10,500 bond and remained Saturday evening.

Staff Reports

City officials call Ride Mt. Juliet a success

Families take part in bicycle ride led by fire truck and more

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Families from across Wilson County came out Sunday to participate in Ride Mt. Juliet, presented by the Mt. Juliet Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee.

Families from across Wilson County came out to the fourth-annual Ride Mt. Juliet event, and followed Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman who drive a ladder truck on a 5.8-mile bike ride.

The event, presented by the Mt. Juliet Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, lasted from 2-4 p.m. at the Music City Star terminal parking lot at the intersection of Mt. Juliet Road and Division Street.

“It was perfect weather for this fun, community event that promotes the mission of Mt. Juliet’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which is creating better, safer options for bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler.

Mt. Juliet police officers on bikes participated in the ride, and other officers helped with traffic control.

“I enjoyed helping with the event, and it was nice to see a good crowd come out to enjoy the weather with their friends and family on two wheels,” said Chandler.

Mt. Juliet Commissioner Art Giles, who is also a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, called it a successful, family friendly event.

“The event was again successful this year with all ages enjoying it,” said Giles.

By Jacob Smith 

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Mt. Juliet officer saves child

Officer breaks window of hot car to get 2 year old out

Mariam Banoub

A Mt. Juliet police officer broke open a car window to save a 2-year-old child who was reportedly locked in a sport utility vehicle Monday at about 2:42 p.m. at Walgreen’s on Crossings Lane.

According to Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler, the officer arrived after he received a call to find the 2-year-old child screaming crying and sweating to the point his hair was soaked. The vehicle was not running. The officer broke one of the car’s windows to get the child out.

Medics said the child was OK, and the mother, Mariam Banoub, 30, of Mt. Juliet, was found inside the store with a 4-year-old child. Information from the scene led officers to believe the younger child was intentionally left unattended for about 25 minutes.

After resisting officers, Banoub was arrested and charged with leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle, child neglect and resisting arrest and booked at Wilson County Jail.

“We are so thankful a watchful citizen saw the child and knew to immediately report it,” said Chandler. “Whether the car is running or not, it’s a dangerous situation for any young child, especially on a hot day. It is also against the law.”

The children were released to their father.

Staff Reports

Kenny Martin: Walkers, joggers, bicyclists should be visible

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

With Mt. Juliet’s rapid growth and warmer weather comes an even greater need for all citizens to use various safety measures while traveling and using our roadways. For example, with the increasing Mt. Juliet population, there will definitely be an increase in vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic and an even greater need to share the roadways safely.

Daily concern calls are received about both vehicular and pedestrian safety and the need for more citizen awareness. Citizens regularly report concerns about pedestrians walking, jogging or riding bikes, along the roadways and streets. Concerned citizens often report near misses with citizen’s walking at night along the roadway in dark and less-than-reflective clothing.

Many concerned citizen’s ask if a law could possibly be passed that would require walkers, runners, joggers and/or bike riders to wear reflective clothing at night and highly visible clothing during the day light hours. Citizens regularly suggest that biking, walking, jogging, running, skating and blading individuals be required to use lights and flashlights at night for proper illumination and visibility.

We always explain it is unlikely that a law would be passed but that we are always willing to pass along important safety information to help not only our motoring public but our walking, jogging, running, blading, skating and active community, as well.

Therefore, I would like to urge any citizen using the roadways for walking, jogging, running, skating, blading or riding bikes to please wear proper safety equipment when in or near the roadways.

Below are just a few tips to keep you and your family safe and visible when walking, jogging, running, or bicycling. I would also encourage our motoring public to use caution, as well, when traveling the roadways with our active citizens. We must share the roads at all times safely.

• Walkers, joggers and runners are encouraged to use flashlights and wear highly reflective and visible clothing at all times.

• Bicyclists are encouraged to wear proper safety equipment, as well, including helmet, gloves, eye protection and highly reflective and visible materials on both the clothing and bicycle.

• If walking, jogging or running with your pets, don’t forget to include them in your safety plan, as well. They won’t need a helmet, but they will need to have highly visible and reflective markings. Most pet stores carry reflective collars and vests for pets.

• If you have a cellphone, carry it in case of an emergency.

• Other safety materials include reflective armbands, vests and ankle straps just to name a few.

As you can imagine, these are only a few safety measures that you can use to make yourself safe while walking, jogging or riding a bike in or near the roadway. Our roadways are becoming busier everyday and we must do all that we can to make sure that we are safe and visible at all times.

The sooner a motorist spots you while driving down the roadway the sooner the motorist can process the needed information in order to make a safe maneuver around you.

Far too many pedestrians are struck and either seriously injured or killed because a motorist didn’t see them until it was too late. We must do all that we can to prepare and protect ourselves. So please be safe and visible out there. 

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Student charged with drug possession

Police find about a quarter-pound of pot in his car at Mt. Juliet High School

Jacob Kachinko

A Mt. Juliet High School student was charged with drug possession Friday at the school.

Jacob J. Kachinko, 18, of Mt. Juliet, was charged after drug-detecting canines with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Lebanon police and the 18th Judicial Task Force conducted a random search at each of the four Wilson County high schools.

Kachinko was charged after officers discovered about a quarter-pound of marijuana in the trunk of his vehicle.

“This was a joint effort that we conduct periodically to help keep drugs out of our school systems,” said Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan. “Schools are designed to be a learning environment for students, not for drug use and trafficking. Canines alerted on several vehicles throughout the county, and a large amount of [marijuana] was located during those searches. We will continue to be vigilant at all of our schools in keeping them a drug-free zone. We appreciate the working relationships we have with both of our school systems and will work daily on providing all students and staff with a safe environment.”

Kachinko was charged with possession with intent for resale and booked in at the Wilson County Jail. He was later released on $2,000 bond.

There were three other students cited throughout the county on drug charges. Their names were not released due to their ages.

Staff Reports

Mock wreck warns students not to drive distracted

Event comes ahead of high school prom

Mark Bellew •  All Hands Fire Photos
Mt. Juliet police officers, Wilson Emergency Management Agency paramedics and Mt. Juliet firefighters presented a mock crash last Thursday at Mt. Juliet High School to remind students of the dangers of distracted driving in anticipation of last Saturday’s prom.

Mt. Juliet police officers, Wilson Emergency Management Agency paramedics and Mt. Juliet firefighters presented a mock crash last Thursday at Mt. Juliet High School to remind students of the dangers of distracted driving in anticipation of last Saturday’s prom.

The students received firsthand experience of exactly what they could be responsible for, including killing someone and possibly one of their friends. In addition, the mock crash served as a reminder for parents and guardians to talk to their teens about the consequences of texting while driving.

The mock crash took place on Golden Bear Gateway directly in front of Mt. Juliet High School while students watched. Students in the drama and theater department played the roles of drivers and passengers in the crash. The exercise involved a distracted driver involved in a head-on collision with another car.

Police and school administration purposely planned the event a few days before prom to remind students of the effects of bad decisions.

“We put this on every year,” said Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman. “Did you notice how smoothly this incident ran? We’ve never practiced this. This is what we’ve done numerous times. Everything that you see, from the injuries the folks have all the way to the positions of the cars, it’s not by chance. These have actually been case studies done, some of them here in the city, some of them to friends and families that we know of.”

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, 10 percent of all drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. Teens are the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.

Agencies that participated in the event included the Mt. Juliet Police Department, Fire Department of Mt. Juliet, Wilson County Emergency Management Agecy and Vanderbilt LifeFlight. Hamblen’s Wrecker Service in Mt. Juliet provided the crashed vehicles for the exercise.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

South Florida gang members spotted in Middle Tennessee

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents seek the public’s assistance to identify members of the Felony Lane Gang spotted in Middle Tennessee in February.

The Felony Lane Gang is a group of organized burglary and identity theft rings that originated in South Florida and operates in multiple jurisdictions throughout the United States.

The gang uses rental vehicles with heavily tinted windows to conduct surveillance in parking lots and steal identification documents, credit cards and checkbooks from unattended vehicles. The majority of these burglaries happen at gyms, fitness centers, daycare facilities and recreation centers where women would be more likely to leave their purses in their vehicles.
The gang members then use the stolen checks and identifications to withdraw large sums of money at multiple banks before the victims have the opportunity to close their accounts.

Since the victims are almost always women, the gang is known to recruit women, often prostitutes and drug users, from outside of the group to impersonate the victims. The women are known to successfully use disguises, such as wigs. The women will strategically use the farthest window from the teller in bank drive-thru lanes to impersonate the customer while they use a stolen driver’s license. This drive-thru lane is commonly known as the “felony lane,” thus coining the name of the gang.

Anyone with information should contact the Memphis FBI office at 901-747-4300.

Staff Reports

WEMA firefighters battle carport blaze

Fire crews keep flames from reaching home

Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos
Wilson County Emergency Management Agency firefighters put out a carport fire early Friday morning.

Wilson County Emergency Management Agency firefighters put out a carport fire early Friday morning at 10625 Central Pike in Mt. Juliet.

According to WEMA director Joey Cooper, fire crews were dispatched at about 5:10 a.m. and arrived to find a carport on fire with two vehicles and an all-terrain vehicle inside. The carport was about 20 yards from the home.

Firefighters extinguished the fire with no damage to the home. The owner reportedly found the fire when he woke up and called 911.

Wilson County sheriff’s deputies were also on scene.

No injuries were reported, and the fire remained under investigation.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

School resource officers take applications for Camp Victory

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan and school resource officers will take applications until June 1 for the third-annual Camp Victory, a three-day, nationally recognized camp that deals with issues such as bullying, how to spot potential online predators and peaceful conflict-resolution.

“The goal of the camp is to help our young people manage potential problems they are faced with on a daily basis, both in and out of school,” said Bryan. “Our young people today face so many more problems in a technologically savvy world than many of us faced in school. Our SRO team wants to provide students with the tools then need to learn on how to maturely manage problems and build self-confidence while avoiding [becoming] victims. We have had a great turnout each time we have hosted this camp and look forward to this upcoming class.”

Instruction areas will include bullying, online predators, drug and alcohol awareness, confidence building, team-building exercises, a tour of the jail and examination of the juvenile court system.

The class will be held July 16-18 from 8 a.m. until noon for 25 qualifying students. Eligibility requirements include any boy or girl with a good disciplinary school record and good attendance record. Any student who will be in the sixth through eighth grades for the upcoming school year will be considered.

The cost is free to any qualifying students. This year, students will get a free lunch each day in partnership with the Lebanon Special School District’s Family Resource Center. For more information or to get an application to attend, contact any school’s SRO or Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore at smoore@wcso.org.

Staff Reports

Seven complete firefighter training in Mt. Juliet

Photo courtesy of Facebook
Seven new firefighters graduated from recruit training Tuesday night, and the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet held a ceremony to honor them.

The Fire Department of Mt. Juliet recognized seven new firefighters recently with a ceremony for their completion of recruit firefighter training.

Shaun Tucker, Michael Tuck, Zach Smith, Jason Pawlick, Callie Minton, Chris Manlove and Neil Howard all completed their training.

Mt. Juliet fire Capt. Nick Ford, Capt. Mo Sills, Capt. Mike Leal and Deputy Chief Chris Allen each gave the new firefighters words of wisdom and experience gained from their career in the fire service.

Assistant Chief Shawn Donavan and volunteer Lt. Ryan Benson, Lt. Davis Combs, Lt. Brian Diehl and Lt. Marshal McGough led the class and served as instructors.

“We also thank all of the other FDMJ members who made this class a success,” said Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman. “Finally, FDMJ thanks these new firefighters and their first families for stepping up and serving our community.”

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Local authorities say majority of cars stolen used for crime

Graphic by Mark Rodgers

After a significant increase in car thefts in Wilson County in 2017, a majority of which were later used for further crime, Wilson County sheriff’s deputies and Mt. Juliet police are urging residents to lock their car and secure their valuables.

Wilson County and especially Mt. Juliet saw a significant increase in car thefts from 153 and 14 respectively in 2016 to 244 and 52 in 2017.

Car thefts within the city limits of Mt. Juliet contributed to 21.31 percent of the total cars stolen in Wilson County.

According to Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler, an overwhelming majority of the cars stolen in Mt. Juliet were later used to commit some other type of crime. Only a small number was reportedly used for joyriding.

“Joyriding contributed to six of the car thefts in 2017. Joyriding is still reported as car theft,” said Chandler. “One hundred and nineteen thefts from motor vehicles were reported in 2017. This is a separate crime classification than car theft. An overwhelming majority of the burglarized or stolen cars were left unlocked. Those that were stolen had the keys left inside the car or the keys were in another unlocked car in the driveway.

“Please always check to ensure your car is locked, and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.”

Mt. Juliet saw the most car thefts in September with seven, while Wilson County had its biggest month in August with 38 reported car thefts. Overall, the most car thefts happened in the summer between June and August.

Similar incidents took place just across the city limits in Hermitage.

“It appears suspects are crossing over into Mt. Juliet to commit unlocked car burglaries and thefts, which we have experienced before,” said Chandler. “Our officers continue to work hard to prevent this type of activity, and detectives continue to work and share information with nearby agencies in hopes of stopping the suspects.”

Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore said a large portion of the increase came from a spree of teen car thefts that started in spring and lasted regularly until fall.

“Deputies encountered groups of teens from the Lebanon area, as well as Antioch and Lakewood areas out of Davidson County,” said Moore. Teens were hitting many well-populated areas such as subdivisions, where they would simply go open the doors of cars and find keys still in the ignition or just laying out in plain sight. If the keys were not found in an unsecure vehicle, they would move on to the next one.”

Some of the teens used the vehicles for joyriding and took anything valuable out of them before dumping them. Wilson County sheriff’s deputies also recovered stolen vehicles in Wilson County from other jurisdictions, including Brentwood, Franklin, Nashville and Hendersonville that were taken by teens who committed the same crimes.

Many of the cases led deputies on chases where weapons and drugs were found when the suspects were caught.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan urged residents to lock their cars and take everything valuable out of the car when they get out. He also suggested never leaving vehicles unattended to warm up in the mornings.

“These cases can be prevented by securing your vehicles properly every time you leave it unoccupied,” said Bryan. “Many times we find citizens make honest mistakes, where they are preoccupied by talking on their phone while exiting their vehicle and just simply forgetting to secure them. While this is also occurring in many jurisdictions around us, as well, we will continue to communicate with other agencies on this growing problem, and we ask the public to remain vigilant to secure their vehicles.”

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Assault, robbery suspect caught

Manhunt ensues to arrest fugitive with ties to Wilson spotted in Mt. Juliet

David Vaughn

A fugitive with ties to Wilson County who was added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s top 10 most wanted list Friday morning was arrested in Dickson Friday night.

TBI agents arrested David Paul Vaughn, 32, of DeKalb County, on Friday night without incident at a hotel in Dickson.

Multiple law enforcement agencies continued to search late Thursday night and throughout Friday in Wilson County for Vaughn, who has ties to Wilson and Trousdale counties and is wanted in connection with a home invasion and officer-involved shooting in Boone County, Kentucky and an armed robbery Wednesday in Escambia County, Florida.

Escambia County, Florida sheriff’s officials said Vaughn apparently walked into a Walgreen’s pharmacy Wednesday at 8:15 a.m., pointed a gun at a clerk and demanded pills. He left the store in a maroon Nissan Rogue.

Escambia County authorities said Vaughn is wanted in connection with a home invasion that led to an officer assault and an officer-involved shooting that happened in Boone County, Kentucky.

Wilson County sheriff’s deputies and Mt. Juliet police officers assisted TBI agents in a be-on-the-lookout investigation Thursday afternoon in the Providence area of Mt. Juliet in the search for Vaughn.

According to TBI public information officer Susan Niland, the agency requested assistance to find a person and vehicle from another state.

The investigation in the area ended at about 5 p.m. Niland couldn’t give any further information Thursday due to the ongoing investigation.

On Friday morning, the TBI added Vaughn to its top 10 most wanted list.

Vaughn was wanted by the Williamson County sheriff’s deputies and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for aggravated burglary and theft more than $1,000 from a Jan. 9 incident.

Reports indicated Vaughn allegedly stole a maroon Nissan Rogue in Indiana prior to the robbery Wednesday in Escambia County, Florida. He then apparently stole an Illinois dealer’s license plate and put it on the Rogue, drove to Boone County, Kentucky, where he allegedly assaulted an officer there and was shot at during the confrontation.

According to reports, Vaughn then apparently surfaced Thursday in Mt. Juliet. Authorities believe he was in contact with family and acquaintances in Trousdale County, where his mother lives. Reports also indicate Vaughn was at TriStar Summit Medical Center’s emergency room at about 6:30 p.m. and left against medical advice.

Late Thursday evening, he apparently left his vehicle at a Speedway gas station on Highway 70, where surveillance cameras captured video of him going behind the building on foot. Authorities used K-9 units to track Vaughn in the area behind the Speedway, but the search was unsuccessful.

Reports indicated a search of Vaughn’s vehicle revealed stolen plates from Nashville, stolen Playstation consoles, Apple TVs, computers and other items.

Authorities believed Vaughn was in a blue Dodge Durango with Tennessee license plate 8B82R6. Agents said Vaughn has an extensive criminal history and was considered armed and dangerous. He has warrants in Wilson County for probation violation. He was described as a white man, about 5-feet, 8-inches tall, and he weighs about 330 pounds, brown hair with a shaved head and brown eyes. The TBI issued a reward of up to $2,500 for information that led to Vaughn’s arrest.

According to Wilson County authorities, Vaughn’s emergency contact was traced to a home on Franklin Road in Lebanon, and it was believed to be where his children live.

By Jared Felkins

jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com

WCSO offers scam warning

Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore warned Wilson County residents Thursday about scammers who call on behalf of law enforcement and first responders.

According to Moore, the department has gotten several complaints regarding scammers who solicit people for money as a fundraiser for law enforcement and first responders.

Moore offered five tips to people who may consider donating money over the phone. The first tip was the organization should be able to provide written information to describe what donations will support.

“Just because an organization claims it has local ties or works with local police or firefighters doesn’t mean contributions will be used locally or for public safety,” said Moore.

Secondly, Moore encouraged people to ask fundraisers for identification.

“Many states require paid fundraisers to identify themselves as such and to name the organization for which they’re soliciting,” he said.

Next, he said to ask the organization how the contribution would be used.

“Ask what percentage of your contribution will go to the fire or police organization, department or program,” said Moore. “Also, ask if your contribution will be used locally.”

Moore then encouraged people to call the organization or the local police or fire department to verify a fundraiser’s claim that it’s collecting on behalf of the organization.

Lastly, Moore suggested people should be wary if a fundraiser suggests they would receive special treatment for donating.

“No legitimate fundraiser would guarantee that you won’t be stopped for speeding if you have a police organization’s decal in your car window,” he said.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Police to be looking for speeders

Mt. Juliet police chief James Hambrick and Capt. Tyler Chandler announced Friday the Springtime Slowdown, a neighborhood traffic safety initiative.

The initiative involves more heavy presence from Mt. Juliet officers in neighborhoods and areas where they receive a lot of complaints about unsafe driving. 

“We care about our citizens and those that visit the city of Mt. Juliet,” said Hambrick. “We want to protect and keep our citizens and visitors safe, and certainly our officer and employees safe as well. So, we have to do something. One of the main things and goals that I’ve had for the last several years now has been to reduce the number of crashes that we have in the Mt. Juliet area.”

Chandler said in his experience, the number one complaint to the Department was about speeding.

“We’re not really getting complaints about crime,” he said. “It’s about motorists speeding through neighborhoods, running stop signs through neighborhoods and/or school zones as well.”

Chandler went on to explain that police presence in neighborhoods can help make roads safer as drivers are more likely to follow road laws when they see a police presence. When presence alone isn’t enough, however, citations have to be issued.

“It’s about changing behavior,” said Hambrick. “It’s not about generating any type of revenue, that’s not what we’re about. We’re about safety and we want to make sure that we answer the complaints that we have, that we address the complaints, and that people see us in those areas where we’re getting complaints.”

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Firefighters battle brush fire

Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos
Mt. Juliet firefighters fight a brush fire Friday afternoon at 3491 E. Division St. near the city limits in Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet firefighters fought a brush fire Friday afternoon at 3491 E. Division St. near the city limits in Mt. Juliet.

Firefighters arrived at about 5 p.m. after a caller told dispatchers the fire was spreading.

Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman was first to arrive and told dispatch the two firefighter crews en route could handle the fire.

Reports indicate firefighter Joe Agent extinguished the fire nearly by himself. Afterwards, firefighters saturated the perimeter to prevent the fire from spreading.

The cause remained unknown.

Luffman continued to stress the importance of residents getting a burn permit before burning. The fire started and spread about 24 hours following heavy rain.

Staff Reports

Local police, firefighters mourn loss of Lebanon police officer

Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos
The casket of Lebanon police officer Joseph Bowen is carried by officers with the Lebanon Police Department from Fairview Church to Salem Cemetery in Liberty, where his body was buried with full police honors. A police procession through Wilson County followed the funeral service.

The funeral for Lebanon police Officer Joseph Bowen was held Monday afternoon at Fairview Church with full police honors.

Members from each first response team in Wilson County were in attendance.

A police procession through Wilson County followed the funeral service to Liberty, where Bowen’s body was buried with full police honors.

Several other organizations continued to offer thoughts and prayers to Bowen’s family, as well as the Lebanon Police Department.

“Today, we joined fellow officers to celebrate the life of Officer Bowen, and it was evident that he was an outstanding man to his family and friends, and an outstanding police officer to his community,” said Mt. Juliet police Chief James Hambrick. “Our department was honored to provide assistance through our Honor Guard team, who assisted during the services. We continue to pray for Bowen’s family and the Lebanon Police Department, and we hope for comfort and strength for them during this time.”

“Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the Bowen family and the Lebanon Police Department,” said Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan. “His service to this community as a public servant will never be forgotten. Officer Bowen was well respected by his peers for the way he genuinely treated people and left behind a legacy for others to follow.”

“Rest in peace Officer Joe Bowen,” said Wilson County Emergency Management Agency Director Joey Cooper. “WEMA continues to pray for the Bowen and Lebanon Police Department family.”

Lebanon police Chief Mike Justice talked about the impact Bowen had on his community.

“Joe was a great public servant, but more importantly an amazing family man and father,” he said. “This tragedy can only be described as impactful, as it will touch the lives of many, just as Joe had touched so many lives with his kindness.”

Bowen died Thursday when his truck ran off Highway 70, into an embankment and into Smith Fork Creek. He had left the Lebanon Police Department around 6 a.m. following an overnight shift. He was driving to his home in DeKalb County.

Bowen was 28 years old. He was a five-year veteran with Lebanon police and had 10 years of law enforcement experience. He was married and had two children, a son and a daughter.

When Bowen’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Nashville, Mt. Juliet police officers and firefighters lined Interstate 40 overpasses in Mt. Juliet to pay their respects. The police department also lit its headquarters blue Thursday night in honor of Bowen. The building remained lit until interment Monday.

“We were honored to pay tribute and respect to Lebanon Police Department Officer Bowen as he passed through Mt. Juliet on Interstate 40 [Thursday],” said Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler.

A memorial fund for Bowen’s family was set up that may be accessed at youcaring.com/kimberlybowen-1116709.

By Jacob Smith 

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Teen charged with threats

Joseph Taylor

An 18-year-old man was charged Sunday night after he a threat in person to two people about Mt. Juliet High School.

Joseph Taylor, of Old Hickory, apparently approached two people Sunday afternoon and warned them not to go to school Monday because he had just bought a new gun. During the conversation, the people noticed that Taylor had some type of gun around his neck. Following the conversation, Mt. Juliet police were notified, and officers opened an investigation.

During the investigation, Mt. Juliet police called school resource officers to ensure they were aware of the incident. The department’s communications center also received calls from concerned parents, who somehow learned of the threat.

Wilson County sheriff’s detectives found Taylor, and a paintball gun was recovered. Taylor was charged with criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault and booked in at the Wilson County Jail. Detectives do not believe Taylor had any real intent to harm students or staff. He is not a student at Mt. Juliet High School.

Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler said threats toward any school would not be tolerated, even if they are meant to be a joke, and threats would be investigated completely.

“In addition, we want thank those who had the courage to bring the statements to our attention,” Chandler said.