Murfreesboro Police Officer David Spell and Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Joey Story monitor drivers on Medical Center Parkway during Operation Lookout.
Sixty-four drivers were cited for texting while driving and 40 drivers were cited for not wearing a seat belt during Operation Lookout Jan. 22.
The Rutherford County Traffic Safety Task Force sponsored the enforcement event to bring awareness to drivers who are distracted and not wearing seat belts, said Murfreesboro Police Capt. Cary Gensemer.
“Our goal is to save lives,” Gensemer said.
Murfreesboro Police, Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputies and Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers contacted 229 drivers during the seven-hour event.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Shawn Boyd said officers issued 27 moving violations including speeding and DUI and non-moving violations such as texting and driving.
“This was a great combined enforcement effort,” Boyd said. “I might add not everyone was upset with us during the operation. Two kids brought doughnuts for everyone.”
Results of the operation include:
Speeding: 4DUI: 1
Disregard signal/sign: 8
Other moving violations: 13
Reckless driving: 1
Child restraint: 1
Driver’s license law: 19
Financial responsibility: 28
Other non-moving: 10
Violation of registration law: 16
Failing to wear a seat belt (adults): 40
Driving on a suspended license: 2
Texting while driving: 64
Accused of firing at a police officer last year
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Members of the Murfreesboro Police Department (MPD) Directed Patrol Unit arrest a wanted fugitive – the same man accused of shooting in the direction of an officer during a standoff at a local motel last year.
Ashly DeJesus, 29, of Murfreesboro, was taken into custody at a home on Christy Court while attempting to jump out of a bathroom window on Saturday, Jan. 16.
DeJesus now faces an additional charge of simple drug possession after drugs were found inside the home.
“I want to commend each officer involved with this apprehension for their dedication and diligence to making Murfreesboro a safer city,” said Murfreesboro Police Sergeant Ricky Haley. “Because of the officers’ actions, a violent criminal, who fired shots at one of our officers, has been taken into custody and is no longer a threat to police or the public.”
After a stand-off with MPD officers at the Knights Inn on S. Church Street in September 2020, the ATF charged DeJesus federally. Before barricading himself inside a motel room, DeJesus fired a shot towards an officer as he arrived on the scene. DeJesus was reportedly suicidal at the time.
DeJesus was out on bond but failed to show up for court and was on the run until his arrest.
Along with the ATF felony warrants, DeJesus was wanted out of Rutherford County for violating probation and simple drug possession. The warrants were served Saturday when he was booked into jail.
DeJesus remains at the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center on a $2,000 bond. He has a hearing on Jan. 20 in Rutherford County General Sessions Court and another one on Jan. 25 in Circuit Court.
Rutherford County, TN—Rutherford County Fire Rescue (RCFR) officials say a total of six people were displaced from their Valley Bend Road home after a fire occurred shortly after 10:30 Friday night.
“Only four of the six were home at the time the fire broke out,” explained RCFR Lieutenant/Assistant Fire Marshal Joshua Sanders.
Crews from RCFR, Almaville Volunteer Fire Department, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services responded.
Fire crews made a defensive attack on the home and extinguished the blaze.
Fortunately, the four residents received very minor injuries to include hair-singeing and a minimal amount of smoke inhalation.
The American Red Cross was called to assist the family.
According to Sanders, the fire is still under investigation at this time, but appears to be accidental.
More information will be released as it becomes available.
Deputy Carol Stafford received the Tennessee Highway Safety Office Beyond the Traffic Stop award. Flanking her at left are Sgt. Nick Coble and Sgt. Michael Rodgers, who serves as THSO network coordinator, and at right is Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh.
Recovering about $17,000 worth of illegal drugs during a traffic stop for speeding earned a Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputy a state award.
Deputy Carol Stafford earned the Beyond the Traffic Stop Award this week from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.
Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh presented the award to Stafford Thursday.
Sgt. Nick Coble, who nominated Stafford, said she helped recovered Ecstasy tablets and pills believed to be Fentanyl after stopping the driver July 28 on Interstate 24 near the Buchanan Road exit.
Stafford approached the driver and noticed several air fresheners in the vehicle and carpet displaced under the legs of the back seat passenger pretending to be asleep.
Indications of illegal drugs being in the vehicle prompted Stafford to request a Sheriff’s K9 and handler to check the car, the sergeant said. The K9 indicated the presence of drugs in the vehicle.
“Deputy Stafford’s attention to detail and quick actions of getting a K-9 unit on scene led to the seizure 563.9 grams of ecstasy pills, estimated street value of $10,000 and 51.4 grams of an unknown green pills suspected to be Fentanyl, estimated street value of $7,000,” Coble said.
RCFR and Almaville Fire Crews Battle House Fire Late Monday Night
Rutherford County, TN—Rutherford County Fire Rescue and Almaville Fire Department battled a house fire on Franklin Road around 10:00 Monday night.
Captain Matthew Lupo said crews arrived to a discover a kitchen fire that had spread to the ceiling. “All of the residents were out of the home,” said Lupo. “Fire was rising out of the roof when we arrived.”
Both departments made entry and were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, while other crew members attacked the fire from outside the structure.
Once the fire was under control, a team was able to remove some of the residents’ belongings and secure other items, but some possessions were lost in the fire. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and residents had another house on the property where they were able to stay.
RCFR’s Fire Investigation Unit is conducting a routine investigation into the cause of the fire.
Drones located a distraught woman who ran into a wooded area in 32-degree weather Saturday near Hoovers Gap Frontage Road, a sheriff’s supervisor reported.
Sheriff’s deputies were called about 1:30 pm. to a home off U.S. Highway 41 (Manchester Highway) for the woman lost in the woods, Sgt. Tyler Morten reported.
Due to the freezing weather, Detectives Ty Downing and Detective Jason Dowdle launched two drones to search for the woman.
“After a short search, he (Downing) was able to locate the female approximately 1,900 feet from the launch location,” Morten reported.
Assistant Director Tim Hooker of the Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency said Rutherford County Fire Rescue also launched a drone to search.
The woman was located in a heavily wooded area. The drone pilots guided deputies and the Special Operations Response Team to quickly rescue the woman.
She was transported to StoneCrest Medical Center’s emergency room for an evaluation.
Hooker said the emergency teams worked quickly to rescue the cold woman.
“This shows how well all agencies worked together to bring this incident to a successful conclusion,” Hooker said.
Rutherford County, TN—Rutherford County Fire Rescue, Almaville Fire Department, and Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department responded to a house fire on Asbury Lane just after 12:30 Saturday afternoon.
Crews arrived on scene to heavy smoke showing and according to RCFR Captain Matthew Lupo flames were already coming through the front door. “It was anywhere from a quarter to 50 percent involved when we arrived,” said Lupo. “Most of the fire seemed to be on the back side of the structure.” Lupo, who says he was told there was a man still inside the home, possibly in a front bedroom, made entry to complete a search but could not locate the man. Another firefighter attempted and was also unable to locate the man.
Firefighters pulled hose lines and began to extinguish the blaze. Despite their best efforts, the 54-year-old male was discovered near the back side of the home. His wife, who was able to escape the blaze, was transported for burns and smoke inhalation and is expected to recover.
Lupo and an Almaville firefighter received minor burns during the search efforts and were also treated and released.
According to Lt./Asst. Fire Marshal Joshua Sanders, the cause remains under investigation. “Our Fire/Arson Investigation Unit, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, La Vergne Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are conducting a joint investigation at this time,” said Sanders.
More information will be released as it becomes available.
When Chris Hale’s best friend died of an overdose, the shock brought new life to Hale.
Hale, 26, of Rockvale found his friend deceased Oct. 11 and called the Sheriff’s Office. Patrol Lt. Will Holton, who coordinated Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh’s new Sheriff’s new Strategies and Tactics for Opioid Prevention Unit, talked with Hale, who had used drugs for eight years. Hale agreed to try rehabilitation.
Care coordinator Erica Phemister of the Tennessee Save of Life First Responders’ grant arranged for Hale to enter Mirror Lake Recovery Center. He had previously stopped using drugs but started again when his stepfather died. He spent 36 days in rehabilitation for drug use.
“Once I got clean this time, all emotions I kept away and feelings showed back up,” Hale said. “Thank God I was in rehab at the time because there’s no telling what I would have done.”
Hale’s friend was one of 26 people who died from drug overdoses and 113 people who overdosed but survived in Rutherford County outside the four cities this year.
The growing number of needless overdose deaths this year alarmed Sheriff’s Lt. Holton, who has investigated drug cases for most of his 20-year career.
“Like every deputy, I am tired of seeing our citizens die from overdoses,” Holton said. “We can’t arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic. It is our goal to transform our opioid-dependent citizens back into healthy members of the community.”
Holton wrote a proposal resulting in a U.S. Department of Justice grant funding deputies on the Strategies and Tactics for Opioid Prevention (STOP) Unit to reduce opioid dependency through education, intervention, prevention and treatment. They started in October.
STOP deputies include Cpl. Jim Throneberry and Deputies Evan Sharp, Carol Stafford, Nick Madore and Gary Herron. They partner with Phemister, whose grant is managed through the Prevention Coalition for Success in Rutherford County.
The responsibilities of the STOP deputies include:
- Educating people about the dangers of opioid drugs including heroin, fentanyl, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone and Hydrocodone.
- Assisting opioid-dependent citizens and their families by connecting them with resources to become opioid-free.
- Responding to overdoes by administering emergency treatment, educating the patient and offering treatment options and providing Narcan, a medical spray that can prevent overdoses.
- Assisting the narcotics detectives in arresting opioid dealers who supply the drugs.
For more information, people may call dispatch at 615-898-7770 and ask for the STOP Unit or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The STOP deputies trained with Outreach Coordinator Joshua Crews of the Tennessee Save a Life First Responder program.
“More people die from opioid overdoses than crashes in Tennessee,” Crews said. “There is an addiction problem.”
Crews instructed deputies on how childhood experiences of trauma increase the chances of substance abuse, how to respond to an opioid overdose and how to prevent death by administering Narcan.
When deputies encounter someone who might need treatment, Phemister finds facilities for drug-dependent people.
“Six individuals from Rutherford County referred by the Sheriff’s Office have graduated from treatment,” Phemister said. “I am able to follow up and get back with the Sheriff’s Office. That is a unique piece that no one else does.”
Holton said the Phemister follows up with the graduates to keep them drug-free.
Before treatment, some people who are drug-dependent will be arrested for possession of illegal drugs or commit property crimes to pay for the drug use, the lieutenant said.
“If you can get them off the substance, you fix two issues: they are no longer dependent on the drug, therefore they don’t have to steal to pay for it,” Holton said.
Hale credited Holton for talking with him about rehabilitation.
“If it wasn’t for him, I never would have thought about treatment,” Hale said.
Hale said Phemister keeps him accountable by making sure he attends meetings.
“She is someone I can call about any problems,” Hale said. “She gets it. I feel like I have a good support system. My goal now is to continue to stay sober and be happy and not depend on substances to keep me sane.”
An estranged husband was charged with murdering his wife after her body was found in a ditch Monday morning near her Midland community home, a Rutherford County Sheriff’s lieutenant said.
Detective Joseph Duncan charged husband Juan Francisco Lugo, 41, of Floyd Avenue in Murfreesboro with killing his wife, Brecka Nicole Lugo, 29, of New Zion Road, said Lt. Todd Sparks of the Criminal Investigations Division.
Brecka Lugo’s parents found her missing and her two small children alone at their home Monday morning, Sparks said.
While patrol deputies gathered information for the missing person report, sheriff’s dispatchers received a call about a woman’s body discovered a few miles away on Oak Grove Road. Detectives identified Lugo as the victim.
“Evidence on the scene indicated that she was a victim of homicide,” Sparks said.
Detectives followed leads developing Juan Lugo as the suspect. Patrol deputies coordinating with detectives located and stopped him on Interstate 24.
“After speaking with Lugo, Detective Duncan charged him with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence,” Sparks said.
Lugo was booked into Rutherford County Adult Detention Center where he is being held on $500,000 bond. A hearing is set June 6 in General Sessions Court.
CID Capt. Britt Reed said her body was taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.
“I’m grateful for the diligence of all law enforcement officers involved with this investigation,” Reed said. “The quick arrest of Juan Lugo is the result of their work.”
Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh thanked Murfreesboro Police who assisted in the investigation.
Sheriff’s deputies in Rutherford and Wilson Counties are investigating a box truck parked at a convenience store playing audio similar to what was heard before the Christmas Day explosion in Nashville.
The driver traveled from Rutherford County into Wilson County where he was stopped by deputies and detained.
As a precaution, nearby residents were evacuated during the active investigation.
Rutherford County dispatchers received a call about 10:30 a.m. about the white box truck parked at Crossroads Market in Walter Hill. Deputies located the truck and made the traffic stop.
Rutherford and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol are working together in the ongoing investigation.