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'I was staring death in the face' Realtor who was carjacked says system failed

Deontaye Gooch-Blacksmith
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 19:18:18-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville realtor wants to know why the system failed the community after he was carjacked on the job.

Elliott Thomas went to show a home to a client last week off Porter Road in East Nashville. When he looked at his phone for the lockbox code, he was approached by a teenager who demanded his SUV.

"Just hearing the aggression in his voice, I was like 'I just got to do this,' so I threw my keys, and after I threw my keys he told me to run, and so I turned around in this direction and ran towards the back of this development," Thomas said.

Thomas used his Apple watch to tell his partner to dial 911. "There were a couple of moments I was staring death in the face. You question one is it real, can I reason? But when he spoke with intensity, and when he said 'I’ll shoot you I’ll shoot you,' that was where I said OK this is real, and I got to take this seriously," Thomas said.

The next day, they pinged Thomas' iPad and went to see if it had been tossed out of the vehicle. That's when they spotted his Toyota and called police. His partner's Tesla captured a photo of the suspect, and police identified him as 18-year-old Deontaye Gooch-Blacksmith. Police recovered the vehicle. Then, Gooch-Blacksmith surrendered after police tweeted out the photo of him. He's now facing charges of aggravated robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. His bond has been set at $90,000.

Gooch-Blacksmith's Criminal History

Gooch-Blacksmith was in trouble by the age of 10. At the age of 13 he stole a car and went into the Department of Children's Services custody. While in their care he committed other crimes involving a shooting and robbery. Gooch-Blacksmith was part of NewsChannel5 Investigates series called Broken which analyzed Tennesee's juvenile justice system.

He was recently was ruled mentally incompetent, which is why he couldn’t go to trial for his juvenile crimes. Click here to view the court record.

"But also another piece, knowing that as a juvenile he got apprehended years back and then was let go," Thomas said, "it’s nerve-racking."

A judge signed off on Gooch-Blacksmith's release from custody when he turned 18. The Department of Children's Services said they had nowhere to hold him until he turned 19. Read the document here.

"Looking at this guy’s track record it looks like someone was shot in 2019, and I could have been another statistic," Thomas said.

Call For a Change

For Thomas, it's frustrating that the system failed. He hopes something changes before lives are lost. "I just hope that there’s a way for them to get him on the right path, to get help," he said. "But to also make sure he’s not a threat."

Next, Thomas wants to work with other realtors on added safety measures. In addition, he said there has been a delay in getting his vehicle back from the impound lot. He hopes it's not in terrible condition.