Lebanon police charged several unidentified suspects with various drug and weapons charges Friday night after an officer patrolling a gate at the Wilson County Fair reported gunfire on Tennessee Boulevard.
A Lebanon Public Safety officer also shot a dog during a search for the shooters.
Officer Tim Kelley heard at least two shots fired in the area while patrolling at the Tennessee Boulevard gate at the fair Friday night, according to police reports. Kelley left his post and walked to Tennessee Boulevard, where he saw people scatter and point north.
Kelley then called for additional officers and started a search of the area. He found the unidentified victim, who said he didn’t know why someone was shooting at him.
At that point, Officer Jeff Scott responded and said he saw a suspicious group of men in the area. Scott interviewed the suspects and found two bags of white powder, which police believe was cocaine, on the ground at their feet.
Officer J.P. Tuggle responded with his drug dog Rush. Tuggle took Rush to the car the group was standing around. Rush then alerted officers to the presence of drugs in the car, and officers found about ½ ounces of marijuana, pre-rolled joints and hash oil during a search.
During an interview with the suspects, officers said the suspects told them four other suspicious men were in the car behind them on the opposite side of the street. The suspects told officers the suspicious men ran to the car after the shooting.
Officers went to the car and found fogged windows and four men leaning over in the seats hiding. After they got out of the car, a gun was found in plain view in the back seat. Officers found two other guns, including one reported stolen from Smith County, along with a small amount of marijuana during a search of the car.
Officers did a follow-up interview with the victim in front of the suspects, but he failed to identify who shot at him.
“The reason that we have officers working the gates is to identify any problems like these in hopes of keeping them outside of the fairgrounds,” police Chief Scott Bowen said. “In this case it worked perfectly. Field Training Officer Kelley reacted very quickly in identifying a dangerous situation, and our officers responded appropriately. After interviewing the victim we believe he knows more about the incident than he is willing to share. Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our fairgoers. We do not believe that this incident is connected to the fair in any way. It just happened to occur on Tennessee Boulevard.”
All of the adult suspects were booked in at the Wilson County Jail just before midnight.
James Dylan Craighead, 19, of Watertown, was charged with possession or manufacture of drugs with intent for resale. Bond for Craighead was set at $3,000.
Devin Allen Lee Olinger, 18, of Lebanon, was charged with possession or manufacture of drugs with intent for resale. Bond for Olinger was set at $3,000.
Javonte Desheun Richardson, 18, of Lebanon, was charged with three counts of possession or manufacture of drugs with intent for resale. Bond for Richardson was set at $3,000.
Cortavious Deshawn Sydnor, 20, of Lebanon, was charged with possession or manufacture of drugs with intent for resale. Bond was set at $3,000.
Christopher Lamar Robinson, 18, of Lebanon, was charged with theft of property and unlawful carry and possession of a weapon. Bond was set at $14,000.
Shawn Davon Jones, 19, of Lebanon, was charged with unlawful carry and possession of a weapon. Bond was set at $3,500.
Each of the suspects remained in jail Saturday, and each has an Oct. 21 court date.
Five suspects under 18 were taken to Lebanon Police Department. Youth services officers decided to release the underage suspects to their parents, and juvenile petitions would be issued Monday.
“It's very disturbing the number of young people that were involved in this incident,” Bowen said.
During a search for the shooters, Lebanon Public Safety officers were sent to different areas around the fairgrounds to look for suspects to avoid suspects’ attempts to enter the fair to try and escape.
Public Safety officer Thomas Douglas was sent to an area around the Wilson County Health Department, which is used to house fair employees during the fair. While there, Douglas ran into a dog running loose.
Douglas said in the police report the dog growled at him when he passed the dog the first time. Douglas came in contact with the dog a second time during his search. He said this time the dog growled, showed his teeth and came toward him. Douglas said he stopped, and the dog stopped and eventually turned away.
Douglas said he saw two suspicious men walking around the health department, and his attention was on the men when he heard grass rustling behind him.
Douglas said he turned to see the same dog charging him. He said the dog showed his teeth, his hair was raised and his tail was straight. Douglas backpedaled away from the dog but came upon a fence that blocked his path.
Douglas said the dog continued to run at him, so he drew his gun and shot the dog once with a single shot.
Lebanon animal control officers were called to the scene and found the dog still alive. The dog’s owner, a fair vendor from North Carolina, also arrived.
The dog’s owner and Public Safety Officer David Bryant administered first aid on the dog. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian, and the owner went with him. The dog was later taken to an animal hospital in Murfreesboro.
“The officer’s intent was to get back to his golf cart and leave,” said Public Safety Director Mike Justice. “When he got to within about 75 feet of the golf cart the dog got between him and the golf cart.”
Justice said the dog appeared to be a blue healer mix.
“As I understand it at about noon today, the dog was still alive but was in serious condition,” said Public Safety Director Mike Justice. “As far as I’m concerned, it is unfortunate, but the officer gave every option to get away from the dog. If he would have had any other option, I’m sure he wouldn’t have shot the dog.”