Nashville restaurant shooter on Easter has previous criminal record, police say

The manhunt for a gunman who police say entered a Nashville restaurant during Easter Sunday brunch and opened fire, killing one and injuring five others, resumed Monday.

The Metro Nashville Police Department said 46-year-old criminal Anton Rucker is still on the run following the gunfire that startled patrons at Roasted on Garfield Street in Salemtown, a neighborhood northwest of downtown Nashville. Rucker is wanted for homicide in connection with the fatal shooting of 33-year-old Allen Beachem and five others. Rucker has a significant criminal past, according to police statements on social media.

Rucker was arrested on various offenses in Murfreesboro last October, according to Rutherford County court records. The ongoing criminal proceedings, due for preliminary hearings on Wednesday, include aggravated assault and gun accusations in August, followed by felony drug allegations in October.

According to court records, he was out of jail on a total $50,000 bond for these offenses when the Salemtown shooting occurred. WSMV4 questioned the Rutherford County District Attorney’s Office why Rucker was granted release on these charges despite his criminal history, and whether they intend to appeal for his bond to be overturned in light of this latest shooting. We were advised that the attorneys handling his case would not be accessible to address our questions before Monday’s deadline.

Rucker’s criminal record in Davidson County alone is 22 pages lengthy, with gun and drug accusations dating back to 1995. His first murder charges were brought in 2000 for an attempted killing at a Hermitage apartment complex, according to court records and arrest affidavits, but he pleaded guilty to lesser counts and served a six-year term concurrently with another drug conviction.

According to court records, Rucker was convicted of at least three counts of aggravated assault in 2009, despite facing more than a dozen charges. According to an affidavit acquired by WSMV4, the accusations arose from a May 2008 incident in Nashville, in which Rucker opened fire after being involved in an argument with two women. According to authorities, he got a revolver from his car and began shooting. The victim, who was not one of the ladies he was arguing with, was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in critical condition.

He was sentenced to an additional eight years in jail, but the Department of Corrections stated that he was released on parole in 2012 before serving both entire sentences. Rucker was incarcerated again just two years later.

According to the affidavit, on May 3, 2014, Rucker was stopped by police for a traffic violation. Police said they smelled marijuana and instructed Rucker to get out of the car, but he accelerated away, almost hitting the officer who started the traffic stop. He was initially charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, but was eventually convicted of assault in November 2014.

According to the Department of Corrections, Rucker was granted release again in 2018. His punishment and parole both ended in 2020.

While keeping violent offenders off the streets has been a stated priority for Nashville lawmakers and officials, significant legislation to address this has only targeted individuals who have been judged incapable to face trial. That legislation was enacted following the shooting and death of Belmont student Jillian Ludwig. Months before the 18-year-old’s death, her suspected killer was released from detention after three doctors determined he was unable to face trial.

The Tennessee General Assembly is anticipated to pass legislation to address this gap.

However, how is Tennessee attempting to keep dangerous offenders with a history of recidivism off the streets? Following Sunday’s killing, Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell stated that the city “must do everything at the local level to limit the likelihood and impact of gun violence.”

“We are continuing to increase police capacity, invest in community safety, and working to ensure dispossession of those who should not legally possess firearms,” O’Connell said in a statement.

As a felon, Rucker illegally had the handgun used in the Easter shooting. Police continue to search for him. He allegedly fled the scene in a Mercedes GLS 450, which was later found.

“Tragically, Easter was disrupted by gun violence in my neighborhood at one of our wonderful small businesses,” O’Connell said in a tweet. “My heart goes out to those who had their holiday disrupted by gun violence.”

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