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Advocates say don't rush to judgement in Nashville woman's shooting of homeless man

(WZTV)

A homeless man shot by a young Nashville woman after an argument over moving her SUV has been upgraded to stable condition on Wednesday.

Newly released surveillance video captures what appear to be people walking and police cars rushing to the scene of the shooting on 19th Avenue South on August 26.

It's where Katie Quackenbush, 26, claims she shot the homeless man in self-defense after he threatened to kill her.

According to the Metro Nashville Police, Quackenbush critically wounded 54-year-old Gerald Melton. Police said Melton was disturbed by exhaust fumes and loud music from a Porsche SUV while trying to sleep on a 19th Avenue sidewalk around 3 a.m.

Melton asked Quackenbush to move the SUV, and an argument ensued. Police said Melton and Quackenbush yelled at each other.

Quackenbush's father is an attorney in Texas and tells a different story from the Metro Police report.

"This man then comes down to my daughter's vehicle and starts screaming that's she's a Bleep bleep bleep and he was going to kill her if she didn't turn her music down," Jesse Quackenbush said.

After Melton walked back to the sidewalk where he attempted to sleep, MNPD said Quackenbush got out of the SUV with a weapon. As the argument continued, she shot Melton twice. He suffered a critical abdomen wound.

Police said Quackenbush got back in the Porsche SUV and fled the scene.

Jesse Quackenbush said his daughter got out of her car with her gun just in case to safely walk her friend to her car. That's when Katie Quackenbush's father said Melton approached her again threatening to kill her.

"My daughter told him 'I have a gun. Get the F away from me'," Jesse Quackenbush said. "She pulled off one round as a means of warning, not intending to hit him or kill him. She thought she pointed far enough away from him to just scare him away, and he kept coming and she shot another round."

Katie Quackenbush's Attorney Peter Strianse said she didn't know she hit anyone. Strianse said he contacted the district attorney and the Metro Nashville Police Department a few days after the shooting letting them know Katie Quackenbush wanted to come forward.

Quackenbush was charged with attempted homicide and released on a $25,000 bond.

Neighbors were shocked by the events so close to their Music Row homes and businesses.

“As far as homeless people around this area, you don't really see them,” Thomas Gilbert said.

"It [the shooting] is a little shocking working on Music Row for the last several years," said Randall Foster who works in the area. "I've never had any real encounters with the homeless. I'm surprised to hear it."

Melton reportedly lived behind a Music Row office building. A business owner, who didn't want to be identified, said Melton threatened to kill him on numerous occasions over the last year.

Homeless Advocate Lindsey Krinks said the homeless are often victims of violent attacks.

“We had a man sleeping on a bench on James Robertson Parkway several years ago who was shot," said Krinks, of the nonprofit Open Table Nashville. "We had a woman rolled into the river on Riverfront Park, Terra Cole and killed there. We've had other people that were attacked. A man in a wheelchair at the Titans Stadium last winter was beaten to a pulp by people who were just out."

Barbara June Patterson lives on Church Street where the homeless congregate.

"So many of these people that are kind to me because I have this cart, and they'll say 'let me help you across',” Patterson said.

She said she also sees troubling behavior among the same groups.

"I've seen them with each other sometimes be aggressive,” Patterson said. "You have some people that have mental health problems."

Homeless advocates say no one should rush to judgment about this shooting.

“In the situation from what we know, Mr. Melton was trying to sleep," Krinks said. "He wasn't out looking for a fight, and he was woken up, abruptly shot, and almost killed. We need to keep holding up the questions from what we have and wait until both sides are more clear before we pass judgement."

Quackenbush has been arrested twice for assault with one case dismissed another still pending. Melton has two convictions for criminal trespassing.

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