MANCHESTER, Tenn. — A man who killed two people and wounded three more in a series of carjackings Sunday on a Tennessee interstate gunned down one of his hostages in front of the man’s pregnant wife, authorities said.
Deangelo Dorsey, 29, of St. Louis, Missouri, fatally shot himself following a car chase involving multiple law enforcement agencies, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The pregnant hostage, who was in the car with him, survived the ordeal.
Darcey Johnson, 28, and Phillip Jordan Stevens, 23, were killed in the six-hour crime spree.
Stevens' mother, Michelle Stevens, told Fox17 in Nashville that her son begged the gunman to not harm his wife, Aileen Stevens, and their unborn child, but to take him instead. The carjacking took place as the young couple, who had been married for three years, were headed to church in Murfreesboro.
“I want everyone to know Jordan died a hero,” Michelle Stevens said.
“He was doing what he was supposed to do,” Aileen Stevens' brother, Eliezer Rostran, told WKRN. “He was taking care of his wife and unborn child.”
Rostran said that Dorsey made it clear during the carjacking that Aileen Stevens would be spared because she was four months pregnant.
TBI officials on Sunday offered a rough timeline of what took place on the interstate, which was thrown into chaos for hours as law enforcement officers searched for the shooter.
“This is a complex series of details, and we have a lot of work ahead of us to connect all of the dots,” TBI Director David Rauch said during a news conference.
The investigation indicated that Dorsey opened fire around 9:30 a.m. Sunday in a vehicle headed westbound on Interstate 24, near Beechgrove in Coffee County. Johnson was killed and another man in the vehicle was injured.
Watch TBI Director David Rauch speak about the carjackings below, courtesy of WTVF in Nashville.
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine told the Tennessean on Monday that Dorsey knew both men. The motive for the shooting remained murky.
“It was an argument of some sort, but beyond that, we have no details to provide at this time,” DeVine told the newspaper.
“Immediately following, traffic in the area stopped and Dorsey attempted to carjack a nearby driver and, in the process, fired into her vehicle, striking her in the hand,” Rauch said Sunday. “A truck driver in the same immediate area also sustained a gunshot wound to the face.”
He said it appeared that Dorsey began shooting at those victims because he was unable to enter the woman’s vehicle. Investigators do not believe he tried to take the truck driver’s truck.
“We think maybe that was collateral (damage),” Rauch said of that driver’s shooting.
One of the living victims remained hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday, according to Craig Northcott, district attorney general for Tennessee’s 14th Judicial District.
After shooting the woman and the truck driver, Dorsey drove off in an undetermined vehicle and rear-ended a Ford Mustang belonging to the Stevenses.
When the couple stopped, believing the collision to be a fender-bender, Dorsey abducted them at gunpoint, TBI officials told the Tennessean. He forced the couple to drive him to their home in Morrison.
“When they arrived, it appears Dorsey took two additional firearms from the residence, swapped vehicles to a blue Toyota RAV4, and forced the man and woman to accompany him,” Rauch said. “The situation escalated in the coming hours.”
Rostran said Wednesday that the couple was taken to a secluded area off Interstate 24, where Jordan Stevens was shot multiple times in front of his wife. Dorsey then forced Aileen Stevens back into the SUV.
Authorities said Jordan Stevens' body was later recovered along I-24 westbound outside of Manchester, about 65 miles southeast of Nashville. He was killed near Exit 111-B, which leads to the site of the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
Rostran and Jordan Stevens' father, Jeff Stevens, told local news organizations that Jordan and Aileen Stevens prayed together before he was killed. They also prayed for Dorsey, the family said.
Around 3:30 p.m., law enforcement officers searching for Dorsey located the RAV4 heading east on I-24 and a chase ensued, with speeds topping 100 mph, Rauch said. About 15 minutes into the pursuit, Dorsey crashed the SUV, which flipped.
“(Aileen) was sitting in the front seat when the vehicle flipped over,” Rostran said.
Dorsey then stepped out of the vehicle and shot himself, according to Northcott.
Northcott said Tuesday that it was a concerned citizen who spotted the RAV4, which authorities knew Dorsey had taken. The TBI had issued a bulletin about the vehicle.
When the citizen saw Dorsey and the SUV, he called 911.
“Two lives were saved, in part, because this citizen was observant and assisted law enforcement in locating him,” Northcott said in a statement. “Those lives being the young woman that was being held hostage in the vehicle and, barring a medical setback caused by this horrible ordeal, her and her husband’s first child.”
Rostran said Wednesday that his sister, who was treated at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga after the crash, has been released and is resting as she comes to terms with her husband’s killing.
“She is comforted by God’s love,” Rostran said. “She is doing better than what anyone can expect.”
While at the hospital, Aileen Stevens learned she is carrying a baby girl. Jordan Stevens was hoping for a daughter, his family said.
“Jordan will live for as long as that baby lives, and we thank God for that miracle,” Rostran told WKRN. “It was God’s hand over her.”
Listen to Rostran talk about the carjacking and shooting below, courtesy of WKRN.
He said there has been an outpouring of support for the family, including a GoFundMe page set up to help Aileen Stevens. As of noon Wednesday, the page had raised more than $47,000.
Aileen Stevens is a kindergarten teacher at Hickory Creek Elementary in Warren County. Jordan Stevens' mother, Michelle Stevens, teaches kindergarten at West Elementary in the same school district.
The district issued a statement on Monday which said officials are “heavy-hearted” over the tragedy.
“Our collective prayers are with the entire Stevens family,” Grant Swallows, director of schools for the district, said in the statement. “They are our colleagues, friends and most of all, family.”
Jordan Stevens graduated from Warren County High School in 2015. According to his family, he graduated with a mass communication/video production degree in December from Middle Tennessee State University.
“One of his teachers remarked, ‘Jordan was an amazing young man who was always dependable, upright, and an exceptional friend. He was a leader in and out of the classroom and actively walked in his faith,’” Swallows said. "After watching the grief our schools have experienced today through this unimaginable tragedy, we are resolute that we all must do better.
“No wife, mother, father, sibling or friend should have to experience the events that took place yesterday.”
The school community has set up an account for Aileen Stevens and her baby at First National Bank of Middle Tennessee in McMinnville, where Jordan Stevens grew up.
Rauch said Sunday that the investigation into Dorsey’s crimes is ongoing.
“TBI agents continue to investigate several aspects of this incident, to include the original shootings, the carjackings, the shooting death of the male hostage and Dorsey’s ultimate suicide,” Rauch said. “In turn, we will submit the investigative findings to the District Attorney Generals, who’ve requested our investigation and our involvement for their review.”
Northcott said Tuesday that the case involves six counties and dozens of law enforcement agencies.
“This will be a long and complex investigation, but that’s what we do,” Rauch said. "Our team will continue to work with our partners to determine, as best we can, the facts of the events.
“To that end, if anyone in the public has information, pictures, video or details that might help our case, we would appreciate a phone call.”
He said it is critical that anyone with information reach out to help investigators piece together what took place.
“If there’s pictures, if there’s videos,” Rauch said. “We do know traffic had stopped and so, you know … I don’t know if it’s fortunate or unfortunate, quite frankly, in today’s society, people immediately reach for cellphones to start taking pictures or video.”
Anyone with information or evidence in the case can reach investigators at 1-800-TBI-FIND.