Police work the scene where Pearl-Cohn senior Johnathan Johnson was shot and killed April 11. / Samuel M. Simpkins / File / The Tennessean
By Anita Wadhwani, The Tennessean
The Department of Children's Services is internally reviewing its actions in supervising a 17-year-old youth who police said gunned down a fellow high school student on his way to catch the bus to school, agency chief Jim Henry said this week.
Police believe Eric Goodner shot and killed Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School senior Johnathan Johnson early on the morning of April 11 in North Nashville.
At the time, Goodner was supposed to be supervised by DCS, but a caseworker testified at a juvenile court detention hearing that the agency had lost track of him.
Goodner had been released from DCS' Woodland Hills Development Center for delinquent youth in December into an aftercare program that required Goodner to have regular monthly phone calls and visits with a DCS caseworker.
At the time of the shooting, no one at the agency had been able to make contact with Goodner in nearly two months. Goodner also eluded police for nearly three weeks after the shooting. He was apprehended May 1.
Henry, DCS' interim commissioner, said he believes the agency acted appropriately in Goodner's case, but is assessing its actions.
"We are looking internally to make sure we have done everything proper," Henry said. "I think we followed all of our rules."
Henry said there was little in Goodner's past to suggest he was capable of murder.
"There was nothing in his background that would indicate that he would be capable of the violent act that he has been reported to have committed, that he has been accused of," Henry said. "Nothing in his background. He had difficulties with Davidson County; he had difficulties with us. He certainly had lots of touches (with trouble), but nothing we could find that indicated that he would be capable of doing anything like that."
Henry said the agency was bound by privacy rules and could reveal little about how Goodner came to its attention or landed in Woodland Hills, a facility for boys ages 12-18 who have committed multiple or violent felonies.
Johnson's mother could not be reached for comment. Other relatives at the Johnson home declined to talk about the case.
Officials at the Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk's Office declined to make the file on Goodner's murder charge available to The Tennessean.
Goodner is currently in a county juvenile detention facility awaiting a hearing June 28. Prosecutors say they will ask the juvenile court to transfer the case to criminal court, where Goodner can be tried as an adult.
Reporter Brian Haas contributed to this story.