Moments after Ashley Crowe witnessed one man shoot another Feb. 26 in a business parking lot on U.S. 31-W By-Pass, she was so shaken by what she saw that she drove to the Ford’s Furniture parking lot off Scottsville Road, vomited and called 911.
The shooting was the end result of a road rage incident between youth theater educator and former constable Brandon Bradshaw, 27, and off-duty Warren County Sheriff’s Office court security officer Tommy Brown. Both men were armed with handguns.
Brown had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Kentucky State Police records show. Bradshaw did not have a concealed carry permit, according to Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron in comments he made during a March 27 news conference. Cohron did note that in the location where Bradshaw’s weapon was found Feb. 26, it would have been legal for him to have it there.
Crowe told state police that Bradshaw brandished a weapon at Brown. Then Brown pulled a handgun from his waistband and fired. Crowe remembers hearing two shots.
After filing an open records request with state police March 28, the Daily News on Thursday received a copy of the 190-page investigative file. The case was closed March 27 when a Warren County grand jury did not find sufficient evidence to charge Brown with any crime in the shooting that led to Bradshaw’s death March 2 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Records show that Brown fired his personal weapon three times, striking Bradshaw once in the left lower earlobe, right upper arm and right wrist area. If Bradshaw had lived, the gunshot to the lower left earlobe that penetrated the head and injured the spinal cord would have left him paralyzed, according to a statement a Tennessee medical examiner made to KSP Detective Brad Stevenson.
Two days after the shooting, Brown, in the presence of his attorney, told state police that on Feb. 26, Bradshaw had cut him off in traffic in front of Arby’s as he and his wife, Mindy, discussed what they should eat for lunch, according to the police file.
A verbal exchange
“Man, you almost hit me,” Brown recalled saying to Bradshaw, to which Bradshaw replied “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” Bradshaw then said an expletive and raised his middle finger, according to Brown’s statement in the case file. Bradshaw then drove his white Ford F-150 in front of Brown. Fearing that Bradshaw would stop suddenly in front of him, Brown said he moved to the left lane. Bradshaw slowed his truck next to Brown’s truck. Brown’s wife was smoking and had her window down. Brown yelled to Bradshaw, asking him if he was a constable. Bradshaw replied, “not anymore.”
Bradshaw’s truck still had the remnants of constable decals from the brief period he served as a Warren County constable. The truck also had an anti-meth decal.
Bradshaw said something like “pull over” and then said “I’m pulling over,” according to Brown’s statement in the case file. Bradshaw pulled into the Enterprise car rental parking lot. Brown told police he pulled into the parking lot of Michelle’s Consignment Boutique at 1135 U.S. 31-W By-Pass to turn around and head back to Arby’s.
At this point, Crowe saw the two vehicles pull into the respective parking lots. She was facing south in traffic on the bypass and was talking to her husband when she saw Brown’s truck stop suddenly in the consignment store’s parking lot as if it were about to pull back onto the bypass. Crowe saw a white truck, driven by Bradshaw, pull in behind Brown, according to the police records.
Brown got out of his truck and walked “abruptly” to Bradshaw’s truck, records show. Crowe said Brown was yelling and waving his hands in the air, and described Brown’s demeanor as “agitated.” Bradshaw rolled down his window. Crowe saw Brown pointed his finger in Bradshaw’s face. Bradshaw attempted to open his door and Brown prevented him from doing so. Crowe then saw Bradshaw pull a gun from somewhere in his truck and point it in Brown’s direction, police records show. She recalled telling her husband “the man in the truck has a gun,” records show. Records show that police observed a semi-automatic handgun with a silver slide and black bottom housing in Bradshaw’s passenger side floorboard.
Crowe watched as Brown pulled his shirt up and retrieved a gun from his waistband. She noted that there appeared to be a struggle between the two men, and then she heard two shots. It appeared to Crowe that Brown’s arm was inside the cab of the truck when he fired the weapon. He then took two steps back and lowered his gun. She saw Bradshaw slumped over and bleeding with a hole under his left ear.
Witness accounts vary
Crowe appears to be one of five witnesses who testified during a Warren County grand jury meeting that began March 26 and ended March 27. The no true bill in the case file identifies five witnesses – KSP Sgt. Jaman Childers, Detective Chad Winn, and three others identified only by their initials, G.H., A.C. and S.M. The case file shows that the only civilian witnesses with those initials were postal carrier Gary Heffelfinger, Crowe and Walgreens employee Shane McCreery.
While Brown told police that he remained calm throughout the incident and never lost his temper, two witness accounts seem to conflict with his self assessment.
Crowe described Brown’s demeanor as “agitated.” She recalled Brown waving his empty hands through the air and yelling something. McCreery said both Brown and Bradshaw were operating their vehicles in a “reckless” manner and that Brown passed McCreery and crossed in front of him from the left lane to the right abruptly into the consignment store lot, causing McCreery to hit his brakes to avoid hitting Brown’s vehicle. McCreery was on his way to work at the pharmacy.
McCreery saw Brown get out of his truck, slamming the truck door. He told police that Brown seemed “hostile in his body language” and appeared to be yelling something when he came to the front of Bradshaw’s vehicle, records show. Both witnesses noted that Brown’s hands were empty when he approached Bradshaw.
Heffelfinger, who was parked in a lot across the street from the shooting, did not see Brown approach Bradshaw. He told police that he heard the first gunshot, ducked down and spun around in the direction of the bypass and saw a man in a gray sweatshirt fire another time. He saw Bradshaw lean away with his face looking at Brown, and Brown walked up, immediately put the gun within six inches of Bradshaw’s head and shot him. Heffelfinger recalled three distinct gunshots.
Heffelfinger then saw the shooter (Brown) pull his wallet out and show it to women standing in the window of the consignment shop. Heffelfinger thought that the shooter “must be a police officer,” according to police records.
After the third shot, Heffelfinger saw a woman – Brown’s wife – get out of Brown’s truck. He said that Brown said something to her, but he couldn’t hear what was said. According to Brown’s account, he instructed his wife to call 911. Records show that Mindy Brown did call 911.
Medical help delayed
While Bradshaw sat injured in his truck, ambulance personnel left to answer the call that first came across the emergency radio as a shooting at nearby Taco Bell and was then updated to a shooting at the consignment store, according to statements made to police by Jim Williams, field operations manager of EMS for The Medical Center.
The first emergency medical truck arrived seconds before Williams did. Williams met with his crew to see if they knew anything about the scene. He noted a couple of sheriff’s deputies on the scene as well as several Bowling Green Police Department officers, all walking around. Williams assumed that there had been a robbery or a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the business and that police were securing the firearm before allowing emergency medical personnel to approach.
After waiting there at least for a minute to 2 minutes, he noticed civilians inside the store and thought that was unusual. He also noticed that the movements of the city officers didn’t seem to indicate that there was still an immediate threat. Williams saw BGPD Capt. Terrell Sharber standing in the road and yelled for him. Williams asked Sharber if the scene was secured and if EMS could check on the patient. Sharber checked with someone and then told EMS it was OK to check on the patient. As EMS personnel approached the vehicle, a second BGPD officer said he knew they had to check on the patient but asked them to be mindful of the crime scene.
After talking to Sharber, Williams said that given information that EMS crews received from their dispatch, city police, sheriff’s deputies and seeing the wound, they were under the impression that their patient was deceased and they were there to confirm death. After Williams saw the wound, he reached the same conclusion.
He stared at the victim’s chest for about 20 seconds to see if Bradshaw was breathing. He sent an EMT to retrieve a cardiac monitor. He felt Bradshaw’s neck and found a pulse. At that point, the emergency crew began to work on Bradshaw and get him out of the truck.
Other EMS personnel also recalled waiting anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute before BGPD gave them access to Bradshaw, KSP records show. One unidentified officer told EMS worker Justin Reesy, after about 30 to 45 seconds of waiting, that Bradshaw was “10-7” – the 10-code for deceased. When directly asked if EMS crews were denied access to Bradshaw, EMS worker Christie Quinn told KSP that they were denied access.
BGPD spokesman Officer Ronnie Ward said the department is looking into the matter.
“We have been made aware of the statements made by ambulance personnel, and we are looking into the validity of those statements,” Ward said. “At this point in time, we’ve not been able to determine if there was a breakdown in communication. However, if there is a problem, we will take all actions necessary to correct it.”
There was no toxicology report in the investigation file on either man.
Brown, who was a part-time sheriff’s office employee and was retired from Bowling Green Municipal Utilities, has since resigned his position, Sheriff Jerry “Peanuts’ Gaines said Thursday. Brown was not facing disciplinary action nor was he asked to leave, Chief Deputy Tommy Smith said.