Nov. 15—Shoppers at a Mt. Juliet Target ducked behind cars on Friday evening as gunshots were exchanged in the parking lot.
At approximately 6 p.m. on Friday, the Mt. Juliet Police Department received calls of “active shooting and people ducking behind cars,” at the Target in Providence Marketplace, located at 401 South Mt. Juliet Road. No one was injured in the incident.
“What we discovered was a family — a husband and wife — from Smyrna traveled to the Target parking lot to sell a firearm to someone that they met online through an online marketplace,” Mt. Juliet Police Capt. Tyler Chandler said.
While the husband was outside of the vehicle meeting the buyer of the firearm, he was ambushed by a second person, who began to shoot.
“He was not hit by any of the gunfire,” Chandler said. “There was a struggle. He ran back to his vehicle and grabbed a firearm and then began to shoot at the suspects who were shooting at him.”
The suspects fled the scene. The Mt. Juliet Police Department’s license plate recognition system captured the vehicle and its tag. According to an update later on Friday night, the sport-utility vehicle out of Nashville was recovered.
“We’re thankful that victim was not injured in this incident, but we’re also going to do everything we can to pursue those suspects who are responsible for this,” Chandler said. “We do likely believe there are three individuals involved. One was driving the SUV. There was the individual that met the suspect acting as if he was going to buy that firearm, and then, you have the suspect who opened fire on the victim.”
According to law enforcement, there were multiple shell casings found in the parking lot. One bullet went through a window at the Red Robin restaurant nearby, where two off-duty Mt. Juliet police officers were eating. Both heard the gunfire and responded to the incident.
“All they had on them was a badge and a gun, and they immediately responded to the gunfire to try to see if there was anything they could do, with no ballistic vests, nothing,” Chandler said. “(They were) just going and responding on foot trying to help while their families remained in Red Robin, huddled down as a bullet went through the window of Red Robin.”
The Mt. Juliet Police Department said that the victim and his wife remained on the scene and cooperated with the investigation.
“We’re not supposed to have shootings in a community or shootings in a packed parking lot on a Friday evening when people are enjoying dinner and just trying to shop,” Chandler said. “Our officers work hard at (keeping the community safe), and they work hard because they care about this city, and they’re going to everything they can to keep this city safe.”