Metro officer shot, 16-year-old suspect killed during robbery investigation

Officer John Downs was shot in the thigh Sunday night during a robbery investigation.
Officer John Downs was shot in the thigh Sunday night during a robbery investigation.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Metro police officer was shot and a 16-year-old suspect was ultimately killed in an incident in south Nashville Sunday night.

It began as officers were investigating a robbery at an apartment in the 800 block of Long Hunter Court at Hunter’s Trace in Nashboro Village around 7 p.m.

Metro police stated a man called to report he was robbed of his personal belongings by two individuals while he was in his car. An investigation led police to the Long Hunter Court apartment.

Several people were inside and consented to a search, during which officers say they located the robbery victim’s credit card.

While officers were there, a teen came out of a room, saw the police, then retreated to a bathroom, essentially barricading himself.

The suspect, who has been identified as 16-year-old Xavier McDonald, ultimately came out of the room.Negotiators and a special response team were then called to the scene.

Officers attempted to Tase him and take him into custody, but were unsuccessful. McDonald pulled a gun and fired at police, striking one officer in the thigh, according to police.

Officers then returned fire, ultimately killing McDonald. He was listed as a runaway by the police department. His mother reported scuffling with McDonald over a box of bullets on December 7. McDonald’s mother reported that he threatened to kill her and was carrying a gun in his waistband at the time.

The teen had a juvenile criminal record and attended the transition program at the W.A. Bass Learning Center, a program for teens with a criminal history or other issues who attend Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The injured officer has been identified as 18-year veteran John Downs. He is in stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center with his family by his side. He is expected to have surgery.

Downs, 42, is a member of the Special Response Team and had previously worked in the domestic violence division.

The other people inside the apartment at the time were detained as witnesses.

Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron told News 2 on the scene that the SWAT team cleared the apartment and the two next to it before the investigation could begin.

“As they had tried to clear the apartment, there was some indication that maybe an attic to one of the apartments leads to another unit,” Aaron said.

Steve Probst lives next to the apartment where the shooting took place. He told News 2 he and his wife returned home around 4 p.m. and saw three patrol cars in the parking lot.

Probst stated that at 7 p.m., “A police officer knocked on the door and asked us how many people were in the residence. I told them it was just my wife and I. He asked us to evacuate our residence through the back door and proceed down the back of our house. So we weren’t in what perceived to be a line of fire.”

At that time officers did not have their weapons drawn, Probst said.

Probst, his wife and two teenager children have lived in the neighborhood for seven years and told News 2 nothing like this has happened there before.

“It’s not scary. The cops, police officers have been very professional. They’ve taken care of the scene, from what we can tell very well, and they were just making sure that we were safe,” Probst added.

Metro police are expected to released further information Monday.

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