East Nashville community gathers following Mansfield murder

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An impromptu meeting at the Greenwood Avenue home of Stephen J. Zralek drew a crowd of more than 100 concerned East Nashville citizens on Monday, November 14. The meeting was prompted by the November 11 murder of Warner Brothers Nashville executive Eric Mansfield, who lived in the area with his partner and O&AN news writer David Miller. Miller found Mansfield shot in the chest inside their 2002 Volkswagen Jetta near the intersection of Chapel and Greenwood Avenues. (See related story below “Mansfield shot and killed near his East Nashville home.”)

Also in attendance at the meeting were members of the Metro Council as well as representatives from the Metro Codes Department and several police officers and detectives assigned to the case.

“People have questions for the police that haven’t been answered,” said Zralek, who has been a neighbor of Mansfield and Miller since they first moved to the area over a year ago. “People are really shaken up by this. It could have been any one of us that was shot. I’m amazed at the turnout. We were expecting maybe ten or fifteen people, but this is incredible.”
Among the topics discussed were the police department’s seeming lack of presence in the neighborhood as well as what could be done by the community and the city to help drive the persistent criminal element out of the area. Despite efforts at gentrification in East Nashville over the past several years, drug trafficking and gun violence continue to be major obstacles. This month alone there have already been three separate shootings in the East Nashville area as well as a number of attempted carjackings and robberies at gunpoint.

“There is definitely more the police could be doing in this area,” commented one community member who wished to remain anonymous. “They could come around here more, not only in this area but also on streets like Straightway, Douglas, Scott, and Porter Road. All of these side streets are where things happen. They may be here tonight, but you rarely ever see them coming up and down the streets here.”

Sgt. Anna Maria Williams, who is managing the investigation in the East Precinct, responded by pointing out there are always unmarked units and undercover officers working the areas attempting to root out criminals. She also stressed the importance of the community taking responsibility for calling the police department every time they even suspect something out-of-the-ordinary. Several neighbors reported hearing the gunshot that killed Mansfield, but no one called the police.

“I know they want to see the marked vehicles,” said Sgt. Williams. “I would hate to think they don’t know we are here, but they [the unmarked vehicles] go where something is happening, and the night of the murder there were seven vehicles on the scene.”

“We are all clearly much more connected than anyone realized before this,” commented Zralek after the meeting. “I heard everyone saying that they are going to get more involved and do whatever it takes to make this a safe place to live.”

Zralek said the area neighbors are considering planting cherry trees along Greenwood Avenue in memory of Mansfield.

Anyone who may have information about the murder of Mansfield is encouraged to contact Sgt. Williams directly by e-mailing her at annamaria.williams@nashville.gov or by calling Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME. Callers can remain anonymous. A $25,000 reward has been posted by Warner Bros. Records Nashville to help find Mansfield’s killer.