Man arrested in fatal Nashville nurse shooting previously shot grandma, other family members

NASHVILLE, TN – Members of the Nashville Police Department SWAT team arrested Devaunte Hill at his East Nashville apartment on Saturday in conjunction with the freeway shooting, and ultimate killing of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman.

It is alleged that Hill shot Kaufman on the morning of December 3rd as she was driving to work on Interstate 440, the southern loop that connects I-40, I-65, and I-24.

Caitlyn Kaufman worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville and was driving on December 3rd when she was struck with a single bullet fired into her vehicle and died at the scene.

Diane Kaufman said she’s glad there’s been an arrest in her daughter’s case:

“I’m so relieved.  A part of me is so relieved they got him. I just get chills every time I think about it.

“Caitlyn’s dream was to live in Nashville from the time she was in high school.  She had passion for her work because she was a very caring individual.   

“Caitlyn meticulously researched nurse residency programs before choosing Nashville. When her residency ended, she was offered a job in the ICU.

“She was a very compassionate young lady and had a heart of gold and was on her way to work to help other people.”

Police say the break in the case came Thursday when a tipster identified Hill as a suspect, and provided information about the whereabouts of the gun that was used to kill Kaufman. 

It is unclear if the reward money, which had grown to $65,000, played a part in police receiving the information on Hill and the weapon.  Police say there may be additional arrests. Authorities have not revealed a motive for the shooting.

Hill has been charged with criminal homicide and is being held at the Nashville Downtown Detention Center without bond.

Nashville police homicide detective, Chris Dickerson, participated in a press conference and stated:

“They did not know each other. He did not know Caitlyn.”

Hill was taken into custody without incident at his apartment.  He was brought to police headquarters where he was interviewed, and he gave a statement implicating himself in Caitlyn’s murder.

Police Chief John Drake said in the press conference that a concerned citizen identified Hill as a suspect and told investigators the whereabouts of the gun used in the crime. The gun was test fired and investigators found “a 100 percent match” with the shell cases found on the road.

Now for the rest of the story, this was certainly not Devaunte Hill’s first alleged shooting crime. 

Juvenile court records obtained by the WSMV News4 Investigates show that Hill, now charged in the murder of nurse Caitlyn Kaufman, shot his grandmother and two other family members when he was sixteen years old.

Those records show the year after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in those shootings, he then plead guilty for robbery using a gun to steal from an unnamed victim.

Hill’s juvenile records show that in March of 2016, he argued with his then 67-year-old grandmother, Earline Hill, about getting out of bed at their apartment on Porter Road.  Police told News4 at the time that the sixteen-year-old went to his closet, retrieved a handgun, and shot his grandmother, along with his 12-year-old sister and his six-year-old nephew.

At the time, police said all three suffered non-life-threatening wounds.  Police said Hill was later found walking on railroad tracks.

Joseph Williams, Devaunte Hill’s uncle, told News4 about the incident:

“This just really is something you watch, or see on TV. To know this is my family involved in this, is just unbelievable to me.”

Williams had a warning for his nephew in 2016:

“Just get your life together, man – that’s all I can tell you.”

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Terrorism and hate crimes charges possible for trio engaged in Nevada and Arizona shooting spree

December 5, 2020

LAS VEGAS, NV – Three individuals arrested for a wild and deadly series of shootings and a vehicle wreck will face terrorism and hate crimes charges. This is a follow up to the Law Enforcement Today article published at the time of the arrest.

Shawn McDonnell, Christopher McDonnell, and Kayleigh Lewis were involved in seemingly random shootings in the Las Vegas suburbs. Their reign of terror came to an end in Bouse, Arizona, when they crashed the vehicle during a pursuit. 

Their capture in the rural area west of Phoenix, between Lake Havasu and Quartzite on November 28 ended a spree that started at a 7-Eleven in Nevada, where one person was killed and four were wounded.  Later, they were reportedly firing indiscriminately at vehicles along US Highway 95 near Parker, Arizona. 

When an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper spotted their vehicle, he began pursuing them near Bouse, AZ.  During the pursuit, the vehicle occupied by the three suspects veered off the highway and rolled over.  A felony traffic stop was conducted, and troopers removed the trio from the wrecked vehicle.

McDonnell, believed to be the ringleader, drew a firearm and was shot by troopers as they returned fire.

McDonnell was treated for gunshot wounds, and the other two were treated for injuries sustained in the incident.

The fact that the three crossed a state line from Nevada into Arizona is having a large impact on how they are being charged.

Michael Schwartzer, a chief deputy Clark County (Nevada) district attorney, explained that the group may face hate crime charges, terrorism charges, and also the death penalty for their crimes.

Schwartzer commented:

“Once we get our arms around this, it’s going to be quite a case.  We’re still trying to find out what happened.”

Schwartzer also went on to explain that the McDonnells are brothers and Lewis is married to Christopher McDonnell.  They all originally hail from Tyler, Texas.

Christopher McDonnell faced a judge in Nevada on Tuesday on charges of murder, attempted murder, battery and firearm charges. Henderson Justice of the Peace Stephen George set a December 15 bail hearing.

Schwartzer said Christopher McDonnell told investigators his brother told him to “shoot the black guy” and referenced an “upcoming war,” and the multiple instances of shootings on highways and roads could constitute one continued act of terrorism.

Kayleigh Lewis, the wife of Christopher McDonnell, is being held in the La Paz County jail in Arizona, while Shawn McDonnell is still in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds.

It should be noted that Kevin Mendiola, Jr. was killed in the shooting at the 7-Eleven in Henderson, near Las Vegas, and his brother was wounded.  Mendiola was Guamanian, dark-skinned, and built like a Samoan, which helped him in football with his 5’10”, 270 lb size.  It is believed that Mendiola was the “black guy” McDonnell referred to when they commenced shooting at the beginning of their terror spree.

Mendiola’s father, Kevin Mendiola, Sr., posted on Facebook:

“My boys were just cruising around and blasting their favorite music … and enjoying the scenery in their trucks and cars that they (built) and loved so much.

“They were about to hit the lake road and loop around back home, and (that is) when the nightmare started.”

Coach John Isola, Mendiola Jr’s football coach at Legacy High School, where he graduated in 2016, thought very highly of the strong, talented football player:

“I was shocked and saddened when I learned about Mendiola’s death early Thursday morning.  You hope that it isn’t true.

“Just a few days before, I went to the Legacy campus to grab something from my office when I decided to stop by the empty weight room on campus. There, I spotted Mendiola’s name on a record board that still acknowledges him as the record holder for his weight class for bench pressing.

‘Hey Mendi, Mendi’s got that record,’ I remembered telling myself.”


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Author: James E. Lewis

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