NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Natacha McDonald was there when her 16-year-old son was shot to death by Metro police officers in a robbery investigation gone awry.
Her son, Xavier, was a suspect in last Sunday’s robbery and shot an officer following a brief stand-off at the Hunter’s Trace complex in Nashboro Village.
His mother said she wants people to know that she is praying for Officer John Downs, who was struck by a bullet in his thigh, and that she fought hard to save her son from the negative peer pressure he encountered.
McDonald’s comments to News 2 are her first public statements since her son’s death.
“I did not look at this and I do not look at this situation as a black child and white cop. I am not seeing that,” she said. “I am seeing Officer Downs as a human being and I am seeing my son as a human being.”
The grieving mother continued, “I have my tragic loss and he has his loss he is going to have to go through. I am praying for him.”
McDonald, who called her son by his middle name of Chandler, told News 2 she was talking to her son on the phone while he was still inside the apartment as Metro police attempted to coax him out.
“I am talking to him, telling him, ‘Chandler, where are you? Listen to them! Do as they say!’” she recalled. “He called his grandmother and he told both of us he loved us.”
That phone call came after Metro police arrived to the apartment to investigate a robbery that allegedly happened in the parking lot.
The 16-year-old was located inside an apartment’s bathroom, but refused to come out. When he did, he fired a shot toward officers when their Taser failed. The officers then returned fire, striking the teen three or four times. He died at the scene.
“I would take his place in a heartbeat. I want my baby,” his mother said.
McDonald said reports that her son was troubled have bothered her because they do not give an accurate picture of him.
“He came from good people. He was raised by me and his grandmother.”
McDonald said she moved to Nashville from South Carolina with her family in 2006. The single mother works full-time as a nurse to support herself and her only son.
He battled with emotional issues related to his family and was also influenced by negative peer pressure in the Nashville area. McDonald was even planning to move her son back to South Carolina in the coming weeks. Their home is mostly packed.
“We were bound and determined that we were going to come out on top. We were going to win this ting. For whatever reason, he drew to that negative.”
McDonald took various steps to intervene in her son’s behavior. She went to juvenile court to get him placed in a program, she had him participate in the Reaching Excellence as Leaders (R.E.A.L.) program at the Oasis Center; and she was considering entering him into Job Corps.
The 16-year-old had spent time at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center up until September when he was released. Then earlier this month on Dec. 7, he missed curfew and got into an argument with his mother. He ran away, and she reported it to Metro police.
“My son was a great kid and he had a heart of gold,” McDonald explained. “Whatever he could do for you, he would do for you. It was just a battle he was fighting inside himself.”
McDonald wants other parents to see her story and reach out for help if their children seem to be spiraling down a negative path.
“Everybody, not just somebody, everybody try to come together and try to get to what is at the root of the peer pressure. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
McDonald plans to bury her son in their hometown in South Carolina and plans to move back shortly after.
“He was my purpose, and now I don’t know,” she said. “I am just being honest. I don’t know.”
She told News 2 she appreciates the prayers and condolence messages she has received from her son’s friends and those who knew him. McDonald realizes her son’s death will have a long lasting impact not only on her family, but the family of all the officers involved in the shooting.
Since the incident, Officer Downs has been released from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and is recovering at home.