New information from the Metro Nashville Police Department - Sergeant Mark Chesnut has been upgraded to stable condition. more>>
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The story of a daring inmate escape that ultimately led to the shooting of Metro police Sergeant Mark Chesnut all began at a doctor's office in Mississippi.
NewsChannel 5 reporter Nick Beres talked to staffers who went face-to-face with the heavily-armed fugitives. They said they felt lucky to be alive, and they consider Sgt. Chesnut a hero.
Things didn't start as expected at The Eye Station in Greenwood, Miss., last Thursday.
"It's definitely not what you woke up that morning thinking was going to happen," said office assistant Ashley Bowlin.
Police said Courtney Logan parked across the street, watching and waiting for a prison van to arrive. His cousin, Joseph Jackson an inmate serving a life sentence, arrived for an eye exam. That's when Logan attacked.
"You can see where he shot, based on the line up there," said Dr. Todd Hall. "He shot the gun from right there when he came in."
Hall said Logan fired two rounds with a 9 mm handgun into the ceiling and caught the prison guards and his staff by surprise.
"He walked in the door like a regular patient would and I asked him if I could help. He started shooting and told us all to get on the floor," Bowlin said.
"I walked up to the door - he opened the door and told me to get in with a gun in my face," said Margaret Davis.
"He told me not to move, so I didn't move," said Bowlin.
Logan took the handcuff key from the guards and tossed it and a bag of clothes to Jackson.
"He was taking the shackles off and changing into street clothes," said Davis.
By the time help arrived, the fugitives were gone - last seen heading north. Police issued an all-points bulletin.
Logan and Jackson were armed. They took guns from the security guards. Officials said the two were considered desperate and very dangerous.
"They intended to hurt anyone - intended to hurt anyone who got in their way at a particular time," said Chief Henry Purnell with the Greenwood Police Department.
Around five hours later police said the pair did hurt someone - shooting Sgt. Mark Chesnut moments after he pulled them over in Nashville.
"Sends a chill down you to hear about it, ‘cause you think that could have been one of us," said Bowlin.
The staff at The Eye Station heard of the shooting on news reports, and were devastated to learn what happened to Chesnut.
"We feel like he took a bullet we could have taken. He took a bullet for us. To us, he's a hero," said Davis.
Margaret Davis went so far as to e-mail Chief Ronal Serpas with the Metro Nashville Police Department. She asked him to pass a message on to Chesnut and his family.
"As you become strong, know the Lord is with you and you can count on prayer. You are a true hero," the e-mail said.
Serpas did respond to the e-mail, and forwarded the well-wishes to the Chesnut family.
The staff at the Eye Station said when the time is right they want to make the trip to Nashville to meet Chesnut and to thank him for his service.
Hall said he would continue to see inmates as patients, but they will not longer be brought to his clinic. He'll go to the prison.
Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center upgraded Sgt. Chesnut's condition to stable Thursday. Chesnut was reportedly awake and talking.