Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shooting suspect's mom prays for wounded Metro officer

Woman unwittingly rented escape car By Janell Ross and Nicole Young • THE TENNESSEAN • June 27, 2009 A Kentucky woman says she rented a car for her son not knowing he intended to drive to Mississippi to help his cousin escape from prison. And she never imagined a Nashville police officer would be critically wounded when he interrupted their flight to freedom. But Thursday afternoon police were on her doorstep with the news that her son Courtney Logan, 25, of Louisville, Ky., had gone to Greenwood, Miss., to get his cousin Joseph Leon Jackson Jr., 30, who was serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections for aggravated assault and armed robbery. "What I don't understand is how he got mixed up in all of this," said Logan's mother, Raymonda Young. The woman thought her son needed a vehicle from Louisville's Thrifty Rent-A-Car so he could take his children to day care after his girlfriend's car broke down. The mother said she is praying for Metro Sgt. Mark Chesnut, 44, who remains in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot on Interstate 40 near Bellevue. Police say Jackson shot the officer. "I am so sorry for what they are having to go through," Young said. "My heart is aching." Metro police say Chesnut, an officer in the interstate interdiction unit, stopped the 2008 Dodge Magnum that Logan was driving Thursday after noticing Logan was not wearing a seat belt. While Chesnut, a 22-year police veteran, checked the pair's license plate on a computer, Jackson walked back to the officer's unmarked car and shot him multiple times through the passenger window, police say. Police say the shooter dropped the gun on Chesnut's front seat. Young has not spoken with her son since his arrest, but she has a question for him: "I would ask him if he believes in God," Young said. "We need a miracle right now, not only for my family, but also for the officer's family." Logan, a convicted robber, is jailed on bonds totaling $3.1 million on charges of attempted murder and unlawful gun possession by a convicted felon. Jackson has been charged with attempted murder, stealing a gun from a Mississippi corrections officer, unlawful gun possession by a convicted felon and being a fugitive from justice. His bonds total $3.3 million. Both are set to appear Wednesday in Metro General Sessions Court. The mother said she isn't sure when Logan began communicating with Jackson, but Mississippi police say Logan had to know corrections officers scheduled an appointment for Jackson at an optometrist's office after Jackson complained about his eyes. Early Thursday, three guards took the handcuffed and shackled Jackson from the Delta Correctional Facility to the doctor, but Logan, who had spent the night in a local motel, showed up minutes later with a .38-caliber handgun, said Greenwood Police Chief Henry Purnell. He shot into the ceiling, ordering the guards and employees to the floor. Logan removed the restraints, gave Jackson a change of clothes and the pair fled, Purnell said. Dr. Todd Hall arrived at his office just after 8 a.m. to find his employees badly shaken. Prison chains and a jumpsuit lay on the floor. "It all happened extremely fast," Hall said. "The two employees said they got here just before 8 a.m. They said they had the inmate sitting in the exam room getting everything ready for the checkup when another man walked through the back door of the office. "It was obviously a well-thought-out and executed plan," Hall said. "I think we are very fortunate that he only shot the ceiling." Steve Owen, spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the prison where Jackson was housed, said inmates are taken off grounds for specialized doctor visits because the prison's medical facilities contain only basic equipment. "For obvious security reasons, protocol is that inmates are not notified of such information until the day of the appointment, at which time they are notified just enough in advance to get cleaned (and) dressed before being transported," Owen said. Prison officials are investigating how Jackson learned the details of his appointment. He had been on the optometrist's schedule for about a day, maybe longer, Hall said. "As far as we know right now everything that was done followed policy and procedure," Owen said. "Of course, all of the circumstances and what might have contributed to it (the escape) are under investigation right now." After the shooting, the two were arrested on Hermitage Avenue in Nashville after Chesnut had managed to radio for help. Suicide attempted Friday, the Davidson County Sheriff's Office put Logan under observation after a guard saw him standing in his cell with a rope around his neck, leaning against his bunk. "The requirement in this situation is for us to do a cell check on him every 15 minutes," Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Karla Weikal said. "We have an officer posted outside his door."

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