A 26-year-old aspiring country singer has been charged with attempted murder after police say she shot a homeless man twice near Nashville’s Music Row in August after he asked her to move her Porsche SUV because loud music and exhaust coming from it were disturbing his sleep.
Katie Layne Quackenbush was arrested September 11, Metro Nashville Police said in a press release. The victim, 54-year-old Gerald Melton, was shot twice in the abdomen and remains hospitalized in critical condition, according to police. Quackenbush’s father, Jesse Quackenbush, told The Tennessean his daughter was acting in self defense.
Jesse Quackenbush told the newspaper his daughter fired the shots as a warning after the victim came toward her following an argument.
“She did say she closed her eyes when she shot both times, but they were warnings, and she thought she pointed away from him,” he told newspaper. “She didn’t try and kill this guy. She had no intention of killing him. She didn’t know that she hit him.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say After the Argument, Quackenbush Went to Her SUV, Got Her Gun & Fired 2 Shots at the Victim Before Fleeing From the Scene in Her Porsche
The shooting occurred on August 26 at 901 19th Avenue South, near Nashville’s Music Row, police said in a press release.
“The investigation, which is being led by Detective Anthony Chandler, shows that (Gerald) Melton was trying to sleep on the sidewalk at 3 a.m. when he became disturbed by exhaust fumes and loud music coming from a Porsche SUV,” police said. “Melton said he asked the driver of the Porsche, alleged to have been Quackenbush, to move the vehicle. An argument ensued, with both parties yelling at each other.”
Melton told police he went back to where he was sleeping.
“Quackenbush is alleged to have gotten out of the Porsche armed and, as the argument continued, fired two shots at Melton,” police said. Melton was critically wounded and said the shooter then fled from the scene in the Porsche.
According to court records, which you can see below, a female passenger was in the SUV with Quackenbush at the time of the shooting. She has not been identified and is not being charged at this time.
The affidavit states that the passenger identified Quackenbush as the person who shot Melton. Authorities said in the probable cause statement that both Quackenbush and Melton were yelling at each other during the verbal argument. Investigators say Melton “did not impede” Quackenbush’s ability to leave the area.
Melton remains hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
According to The Tennessean, Quackenbush did not report the incident to police until a week after it happened, when her attorney contacted investigators. She was interviewed by detectives on September 6.
Melton, who goes by the name Doug, is a talented musician who has struggled over the years, those who know him say. A video of him playing guitar and singing was posted to YouTube last December:
“He lived in the parking lot behind our building for about a year,” Sharon Corbitt-House, who started a fundraising effort for him last year, told WSMV-TV. “I had no clue that he was as talented as he was.”
She said they raised $2,000 to get him temporary housing in Nashville, but he was back on the streets of Music Row not long after that. Melton is originally from Little Rock and moved to Nashville to pursue a music career, she said. Corbitt-House said she never found Melton to be threatening or dangerous.
“I never experienced it,” Corbitt-House told the news station. “I had a heard a couple of people had had incidents with him where he raised his voice and had gotten angered.”
2. Quackenbush, a Single Mom of a 5-Year-Old Son, Fired ‘Warning Shots’ After Being Threatened, Her Father Says
Katie Quackenbush’s father, Jesse, says that his daughter, who is the single mother of a 5-year-old son, had no intention of shooting Melton.
“She has a son,” Jesse Quackenbush, an attorney in Texas, told The Tennessean. “She’s never done anything like this in her life. She had an eyewitness in the front seat.”
Jesse Quackenbush said Melton approached the Porchse and threatened to kill his daughter and the other woman who was in the SUV, while also making explicit and sexist remarks toward Katie Quackenbush, the newspaper reports.
“He comes up to their window and starts screaming in their window various threats, and something about turning their music down and that he couldn’t sleep,” he told the newspaper.
Jesse Quackenbush told the newspaper the man walked away and his daughter got out of her car to escort her friend to a vehicle parked close by. She grabbed her gun and put a magazine inside, he said. Jesse Quackenbush says his daughter saw Melton walking toward her again and told him she had a gun. She then fired two “warning shots” and left, her father said. There was no indication Melton had been shot, the suspect’s father said. Melton did not scream when hit, according to Jesse Quackenbush.
The elder Quackenbush told The Tennessean his daughter and her friend decided to leave and go to a restaurant, and come back later for the other woman’s car. When they returned, they found the car and the area surrounded by police tape. He told the newspaper that his daughter got an attorney and cooperated with the investigation, including turning herself in for questioning.
He also issued a statement about his daughter’s arrest, disputing the police version of events. He said in the statement that the man had “accosted” another group of women, before approaching the car his daughter and another woman were in. Jesse Quackenbush said in the statement that his daughter fired the first “warning shot” to “scare him away” as he came at her, and then fired the second shot “to scare him away,” before “quickly” leaving the scene, not knowing she had hit Melton. He said that Melton was not sleeping or on the ground when his daughter fired the shots, and was “always on his feet” during the incident.
You can read his full statement below:
The two women were actually acting in self defense. The man was always on his feet and not asleep as someone apparently has alleged and had accosted a group of very young women and nearly became physical with one. He then approached the white Porsche (not Lexis) with two female occupants and started verbally accosting them threatening them because their music was too loud for him to sleep… The driver fired a round as a warning to scare him away as he came at her. He kept coming and she fired a second round, again intended to scare him away. They quickly got back into the white vehicle and left, not knowing that the man was hit by the warning shots. Both girls contacted the police and DA shortly after the incident and have always agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation.
3. She Is Originally From Texas & Has Twice Been Arrested There on Assault Charges
Katie Quackenbush is originally from Amarillo, Texas. She has no prior criminal convictions on her record, but was arrested in 2013 on an assault charge in Amarillo, according to online arrest records.
She was arrested October 3, 2013, by the Amarillo Police Department on a misdemeanor domestic violence-related assault charge. She was released from the Randall County Jail a day later after posting $5,000 bond. Court records on the Randall County website show the case was dismissed by the district attorney in April 2014. She was ordered to pay a $400 attorney fee. The case stemmed from an incident with Quackenbush had with her mother.
Quackenbush was also arrested in Potter County, Texas, on December 17, 2016, and charged with misdemeanor assault. That case is still pending. According to The Tennessean, Quackenbush was accused of hitting a woman with a drinking glass. Her father told the newspaper that his daughter was arrested for throwing a glass of water in the face of her ex-husband’s girlfriend after she “made some insulting remarks.”
Jesse Quackenbush, Katie’s father, who has been speaking on her behalf, is a prominent criminal defense lawyer in Amarillo.
4. Quackenbush Has Been a Country Singer, Using the Name Katie Layne & Ran a Company That Provided ‘Promo Girls’ to Extreme Sports Events
Katie Quackenbush is a musician, performing country songs under the name Katie Layne. Her Twitter profile, which includes explicit and nude photos of her in an effort to promote her “Outlaw” country music style, has not been active since 2016. The Twitter account was taken down after her arrest.
She released a song on iTunes in 2015, called “Midnight Revival.”
Other songs, including “Outlaw Love,” were posted on her YouTube page. In the “Outlaw Love” video, she can be seen running from a police officer as he points a gun at her, while singing “I’m definitely a sinner, I’ve never been a saint.”
Other songs could be found on her SoundCloud page, but it was removed after her arrest.
In addition to her music career, Quackenbush, a skier, started a now-defunct company called Stitches Promo Girls in 2011. She wrote on Twitter, “Our company brings Promo Girls in one easy step to businesses in the extreme sport community.” She posted videos on YouTube talking about and promoting the company:
She also recorded a “spoof” rap video, called “Ski Tips Up Hoes Down,” about the skiing community in 2011 that gained some attention:
Quackenbush says on Linkedin that she has studied at Amarillo College and worked as a recruiting specialist for Sanford Rose Associates, a Texas-based recruiting firm.
5. She Was Released From Jail After Posting $25,000 Bail & Is Due in Court in October
Quackenbush, of 45th Avenue North, was arrested on September 11 and booked into the Davidson County Jail. She was later released after posting $25,000 bail. She was booked about 6 p.m. and released by 10 p.m.
Police served a search warrant at Quackenbush’s home, according to a photo provided to The Tennessean.
Quackenbush’s attorney Peter Strianse, said another local attorney has surveillance video of the incident. He also said that the victim, Melton, had threatened other people in the area where the shooting occurred.
“I think she felt threatened, because she was threatened,” Strianse told the newspaper Tuesday. “She was dealing with somebody that came out of an extremely dark street in the early morning hours who comes out of nowhere and is banging violently on the car window. Somebody who appears to be either deranged, somebody who may be on some sort of drug, who seems completely unhinged, and that’s why she reacted the way that she did.”
Strianse told the newspaper he believes he can prove the shooting was justified.
Katie Quackenbush is scheduled to appear in court on October 6.
“She’s a victim in this more so than Mr. Melton. If anything he’s the one that should’ve stayed laying down on the ground and stayed away from young women that night,” Jesse Quackenbush told News Channel 5.
But advocates for the local homeless community don’t see it that way.
“There’s a big power imbalance between the players in this situation. There is an excessive use of force in violence with the gun, so anytime there is an excessive use of force, people who abuse their power need to be held accountable,” Lindsey Krinks of Open Table Nashville told the news station.