On Tuesday night, Justin Davis, a 24-year-old Army veteran, sat in his car in the parking lot of Germantown’s Cameron-Brown Park frustrated, depressed, and armed with a rifle.
Davis, who battled post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, had been reportedly having suicidal thoughts and was going through a divorce. To make matters worse, he had been unable to find employment upon his return from the military.
According to reports, the Germantown Police Department (GPD) Communications Center received a “Be On The Lookout” (BOLO) message stating Davis was “unstable, possibly suicidal, armed and dangerous” on Tuesday, July 15th, around 9 p.m. The GPD Communications Center was notified by the Fayette County Sheriff's Office around 9:45 p.m. that Davis was located at Cameron-Brown Park (8626 Farmington Boulevard).
GPD officers arrived on the scene shortly after and located Davis in a parking lot near a baseball field. After evacuating the area, officers communicated with Davis via phone and through a squad car public address system, according to reports.
What transpired during the conversation up until the seconds before bullets were fired remains unclear. According to reports, Davis “escalated” the situation during his communication with GPD officers. This resulted in three officers firing their weapons, striking Davis. He was pronounced deceased on the scene.
“As officers were continuing their effort to communicate, the situation was escalated by the subject, who was armed with a rifle, resulting in three Germantown police officers discharging their weapons,” stated a police news release regarding the incident.
Names of the three officers involved in the shooting have yet to be released, but are on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, according to reports. Where and how many times Davis was shot has yet to be announced. He leaves behind a young daughter.
Not only are Davis’ family and friends deeply saddened by the occurrence, members and veterans of various branches of the U.S. military have been touched by the situation. Local veteran Jerome Hardaway is among these people.
Hardaway has created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Davis’ burial. He was motivated to start the fundraiser after receiving messages from friends and family of Davis’ who were hurt by the situation and concerned with how his burial would be financed.
After discovering the local Veterans Administration would not be able to cover the expenses, he organized a GoFundMe account in the hope that small donations would be made to help Davis' family put him to rest at the West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery (4000 Forest Hill Irene). The fundraiser's goal is $2,500.
“Hopefully, the community will come together and help this family,” Hardaway said. “The fundraiser will go on until the family has the resources to put him properly to rest.”
Hardaway is an Air Force vet and fought in the Iraq War, also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. He said he can relate to Davis’ battle with post-war issues and is disheartened by the fact he was unable to find employment after returning home from the military.
“As an OIF veteran, I do suffer from combat stress, and I've worked hard to learn how to manage it,” Hardaway said. “I’m personally saddened by the situation, because I know how he felt. [To] go to Iraq and manage to survive a war zone, only to come home and be told that you have no skills is demoralizing. The government spends hundreds of thousands of dollars turning young people into more than fighters; [they become] effective learners, thinkers, capable of working harder and being more mentally agile than their civilian counterparts in order to complete missions. It’s horrible that people tend to choose to only see veterans in a certain light, but we are working hard to change that.”
Hardaway is in the beginning stages of creating his company, FRAGO, an entity that will take a proactive approach to helping veterans receive the services they need before it’s too late.