A Gallatin murder suspect who was on the run following a fatal shooting at a West Main Street hotel Saturday morning has died from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Gallatin police.
Jonte Bender was wanted in connection with the shooting death of 18-year-old Ja’Darrius Williams inside a room at the Econo Lodge around 6:24 a.m., according to Lt. Bill Vahldiek with the Gallatin Police Department. A second victim, 18-year-old Caleb Williams, was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
Following the shooting, Bender fled the scene and was involved in a carjacking that occurred in the parking lot of the Gallatin H&R Block at 1025 Nashville Pike, according to a news release from the Gallatin Police Department. He was later found dead after the car he was in crashed following a police chase Saturday night on I-65 North.
“At the request of 18th District Attorney General Ray Whitley, (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) Agents are investigating the circumstances surrounding a shooting death of Jonte Bender that occurred Saturday night along I-65,” according to a TBI spokesperson Sunday. “Preliminary information indicates the shooting was self-inflicted and occurred while the male subject was being pursued by the Goodlettsville Police Department. Bender was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation remains active and ongoing.”
In a statement released to the media Saturday night, Gallatin police said Bender had been located in Goodlettsville and “taken into custody.” Details about the car chase and shooting were not mentioned.
“The initial statement was released to alleviate fears that the suspect was still at large and a danger to the community,” Vahldiek said Sunday.
The shooting Saturday is the second murder to take place in Gallatin in less than a week. On Tuesday, Corey Williams was arrested and charged with fatally shooting his wife Lexus Williams in a car on Buffalo Ridge.
While both hotel shooting victims are related to Corey Williams, police say they do not believe the two cases are connected at this time.