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Manhunt continues for suspect in Tennessee officers shooting

LA VERGNE (AP) – Police in Tennessee, United States were searching for the estranged son of Nashville’s police chief as the suspect in the shooting of two police officers outside a Dollar General store.

Officers in La Vergne, a city about 32 kilometres southeast of Nashville, were investigating a stolen vehicle outside the store on Saturday afternoon when they struggled with the suspect, who pulled a handgun and shot them, said La Vergne Police Chief Christopher Moews.

Police identified the suspect as John C Drake Jr, 38, who is the son of Metro Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake.

Police said on Sunday that Drake is considered armed and dangerous, and urged the public to remain vigilant and to call authorities immediately if they see someone matching his description.

La Vergne spokesperson Anne Smith identified the officers as Ashely Boleyjack and Gregory Kern. Boleyjack was released from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on Saturday, while Kern was kept overnight for observation and is in stable condition, the city said in a news release on Sunday.

La Vergne police officers Ashely Boleyjack and Gregory Kern. PHOTO: AP

The police chief issued a statement on Saturday confirming his son was the suspect in the shooting. Drake said they were estranged and over many years he has had only minimal contact with his son.

The younger Drake is a convicted felon who “resorted to years of criminal activity”, he said.

“He now needs to be found and held accountable for his actions today. I hope that anyone who sees him or has information about him will contact law enforcement immediately,” Drake said in the statement.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a social media post that a statewide alert had been issued for Drake, who was wanted on two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Smith said about a dozen law enforcement agencies are involved in the search.

After the shooting, the La Vergne police issued a shelter-in-place order for residents in the city.

The shelter order was later lifted while the search for Drake continued, the department said in a social media post.

Mayor Freddie O’Connell issued a statement in support of the police chief.

“My heart goes out to Chief Drake, his family, and the two wounded La Vergne police officers. I know that despite our best efforts – including in their early years – we can’t be responsible for the choices of family members,” O’Connell said. “I support Chief Drake and stand by him at this difficult time.”