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McMinnville man shot, killed by deputies

A McMinnville man was shot and killed by officers during an armed standoff on rural Toad Road Thursday night in DeKalb County.

According to radio partners at WJLE in Smithville, 28 year old Gregorio Cruz Vanloo of McMinnville was taken by DeKalb EMS to Ascension Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

Reports indicate that there was an armed standoff with officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s and Smithville Police Departments Thursday night at a residence on Toad Road.

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“After we got a tip that he was at this residence on Toad Road, officers of the Sheriff’s Department and Smithville Police Department got together and went to this home trying to apprehend Vanloo. When we arrived on the scene, Vanloo was on the front porch threatening the officers and then he drew down on them with a handgun. After an exchange of gunfire with officers Vanloo was wounded and later died.”

No one else was injured.

The case remains under review by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway.

The story began Thursday morning when Vanloo caught a ride with a woman who brought her brother to work at Los Lobos Mexican Restaurant on Broad Street. After that, Vanloo became a suspect in a “shots fired” incident at the parking lot of Los Lobos Mexican Restaurant Thursday morning.

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As the woman pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant in a red car, a white Chevy Suburban, driven by her former boyfriend, Steven Christopher Shelton of McMinnville drove up beside her. According to the woman, Shelton had been harassing her even though she had an order of protection against him. After the woman’s brother jumped from the red car with a tire iron to confront Shelton, Vanloo, seated in the back seat of the red car, pulled a handgun and fired two shots into the side of the Suburban. Shelton wasn’t hit but he drove to the rear of the restaurant, parked, and then got out and took refuge inside the restaurant, entering through the back door.

After dropping off her brother, the woman then drove Vanloo to the Midway Community where he had asked her to leave him. She then returned to town.

During an investigation at the restaurant by Smithville Police, a witness to the shooting spotted the woman’s red car pulling into the parking lot of McDonald’s Restaurant and reported it. Officers went to McDonalds to confront the woman and she explained what had happened and where she had taken Vanloo.

City and county officers then began their search for Vanloo and reverse 911 calls were made to area residents alerting them to the threat and to report suspicious activity. Sheriff Ray and Chief Mark Collins said the effort paid off as tips started coming in from the community. Officers learned that Vanloo was spotted around at least two homes on Sparta Highway and that his image was captured on home surveillance there.

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“While we were searching a call came in that someone had spotted a man fitting the description of our suspect getting into a red Toyota, driven by another man later identified as Gregory Michael Patton, at the corner of Evins Mill Road and Highway 70. According to the witness, the man (suspect) got into the rear seat and laid down, The car then came back into town,” said Chief Collins.

County and city officers later spotted a red Toyota matching the description on Highland Avenue and when they approached the car it sped away resulting in a pursuit which started in Smithville and traversed along several streets and county roads before heading out Short Mountain Highway and into Cannon County where the driver finally pulled over on Jim Cummings Highway near the Coffee County line. During the chase, which at times exceeded speeds of 100 miles per hour, a Be On The Lookout (BOLO) was issued and officers from the Warren County and Cannon County Sheriff’s Departments, Woodbury Police Department, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol joined in the effort to get the vehicle stopped. Warren County Sheriff Tommy Myers was also helpful to the local departments in identifying Vanloo as the suspect because of his criminal record there.

Following the chase, officers received a tip that Vanloo was at a residence on Highland Avenue where the pursuit began but upon arriving there after the tip, they discovered Vanloo had already left.

“During our search of the home, we found our suspect’s backpack. There was also a large amount of methamphetamine in the backpack. We had information earlier that Vanloo had two weapons on him at the time of the shooting at Los Lobos and we found one of the weapons among his belongings at this residence on Highland Avenue. He also had a police scanner so we knew he could monitor our movements while we were out trying to catch him,” said Chief Collins.

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“We later had a report of him on foot walking by Florence & White Ford so we did another 911 reverse call to alert residents in that area,” said Sheriff Ray.

“Calls came in from people who saw men walking that matched the description and we began following up on all of those leads. We even had a call reporting someone in the bushes by Walmart. Both city and county agencies responded but it turned out not to be him. Walmart was put on lock down for a long time during that period,” said Chief Collins.

Later after receiving another tip, officers converged at the residence on Toad Road where Vanloo was found and confronted.

TBI reports that Vanloo allegedly came out of the home firing shots. As a result, officers returned fire, striking Vanloo.

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Sheriff Ray said that Patton has been charged with reckless endangerment, evading arrest, and driving under the influence. He was also cited for possession of schedule II and V drugs (methamphetamine and Gabapentin).

The charges against Patton allege he tried to evade law enforcement in congested traffic driving at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour forcing several vehicles off the roadway and going through a public housing area at excessive speeds where children were present. Patton admitted to having taken methamphetamine and heroin. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Patton had to be assisted to the patrol car. He had on him 0.4 grams of methamphetamine and two Gabapentin pills.

Shelton is charged with assault and violating an order of protection. His bond is $7,000 and he will make a court appearance on June 25.

“A special thanks to Warren County Sheriff Tommy Myers and his staff, Cannon County Sheriff Darrell Young and his staff, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Woodbury Police Department, TBI, and District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway and his staff for their assistance,” said Sheriff Ray.

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“We also want to thank the citizens for their support in giving us tips and for the things we have seen on facebook since this has happened along with the calls, text messages, and emails we have had in support of us through this. We want people to continue to pray for our deputies, us, and the city police officers who were there and please pray for Mr. Vanloo’s family,” said Sheriff Ray.

“We will be setting up a debriefing for our officers. That was a very tragic thing for them to have gone through. All of our officers are young and we want to make sure they are okay,” he said.

“I want to express my thanks to Sheriff Ray and his staff. They were there with us at the beginning and helped us. We couldn’t have done this without them today. We both had several officers working and we needed all of them. Its great that we live and work in a place where two agencies like ours work together. Today we started this case together and finished it together,” said Chief Collins.

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