Caldwell caught in chase

Jesse Caldwell

A theft suspect who spent Friday creating havoc in an eastern Shelbyville neighborhood was arrested Sunday after a vehicle chase in Murfreesboro.

Jesse Caldwell, 23, of Murfreesboro was driving a pickup truck stolen earlier in the day through yards on Twin Oak Drive, investigators said. A short pursuit began after officers spotted his vehicle, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

“An officer exited his vehicle, identified Caldwell and shot into the vehicle,” TBI spokesperson Josh DeVine said Monday. “Caldwell was not shot but sustained injuries from broken glass. No law enforcement officers were injured.”

Officers initially thought Caldwell had been wounded and called for an ambulance, according to Murfreesboro police radio traffic archived on the Broadcastify app. That request was quickly rescinded. No officers were injured, the TBI said.

Weapon in reach

A loaded Colt Detective Special .38 caliber revolver stolen from a Shelbyville home was on the truck’s seat next to Caldwell, according to police radio traffic.

Caldwell was treated and released at a hospital and transported to Rutherford County Jail on charges of violation of community corrections, escape from a law enforcement officer and evading via motor vehicle.

Twin Oak Drive is on the eastern edge of Murfreesboro near Middle Tennessee State University.

Authorities said Caldwell stole the truck from a Rutherford County home earlier Sunday, where he allegedly ditched a car stolen from a Shelbyville home Friday. Rutherford County deputies pursued Caldwell at one point but lost contact. Murfreesboro police were stationed at the entrance of the university’s “fraternity row” awaiting the truck shortly before the pursuit.

Saga begins

Caldwell allegedly initially came to Shelbyville on Friday in a Nissan Altima stolen from a home on Midland-Fosterville Road in southern Rutherford County, Shelbyville police said.

He had been ordered out of the home by its owner, Brittany Marie Griffin, who told two friends temporarily staying with her — Amy Braswell, 26, whom he had come to visit, and the car’s owner, Kimberly Dawn Hunter, 28, of Lebanon — not to allow visitors. Caldwell allegedly ransacked Griffin’s garage and shed, taking her laptop computer and money from Braswell’s purse, before leaving in the Altima.

Moments later Braswell received a message that Caldwell was headed toward Shelbyville and a Facebook message from him requesting to be picked up at his brother’s Wartrace Pike apartment, police said.

The women drove to Shelbyville in Griffin’s car and found Caldwell at the apartment, officer Ronnie Blankenship’s report said.

Shots fired

Braswell allegedly fired two shots from a C.A.I. 9mm pistol toward the rear of the Altima “to scare him,” she told police, as Hunter yelled at him to get out of her car.

Caldwell sped away, driving through back yards and behind a church, with the women in pursuit until he crashed at the Birch Street-Forest Avenue intersection. He ran away toward Forest Avenue at that point. A car owned by a Birch Street resident was struck during the chase,

“It doesn’t have to be like this. I only want my car back,” Hunter yelled at him, according to police. She said she did not want to get Caldwell in trouble.

Braswell’s gun, with four bullets remaining, was confiscated by police.

Charges filed

The pursuers were all charged with reckless endangerment.

Jailers discovered a small bag of crystal meth in Braswell’s underwear, Blankenship’s report said. She was also charged with introducing contraband into a penal institution and posted $11,000 bond.

Hunter posted $5,000 bond and Griffin $1,500 bond.

Next stop

Caldwell disappeared for several hours as officers combed the area, searching outbuildings and other possible hiding places. By midday he made his way to a unlocked Forest Avenue home, within sight of the crash site, where he allegedly spent part of the morning ransacking the premises and taking two loaded weapons before being confronted by the homeowner, who had just returned.

“I’ll shoot you!” Caldwell allegedly shouted while pointing a gun at the man, who responded by telling him, “You aren’t shooting anybody” and grabbing him, police said.

Caldwell got away and was found moments later crouching beside the homeowner’s truck. Another physical confrontation ensued, with Caldwell unsuccessfully trying to grab the victim’s truck keys before running away with the guns, the revolver and a Ruger .22 caliber pistol, Blankenship said.

Left behind were two bags Caldwell allegedly filled with pocket knives, large amounts of change and prescription medication.

On the run

Across the street, Caldwell allegedly discovered a 2012 Kia Optima left in the driveway unlocked with the keys inside while the owner dropped off a child. The owner discovered the car was gone when stepping outside to make a phone call.

Officers spent much of Friday afternoon stopping Kias similar to the missing vehicle across Bedford County.

Three nearby schools — Shelbyville Central High, Harris Middle and Learning Way Elementary — were placed on lock-down during the morning and again during the early afternoon.

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