RUTHORFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (CW69 News at 10/CNN) — It was about 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning when Aileen and Jordan Stevens were driving to church and a car rear-ended their Ford Mustang on Interstate 24 in Tennessee.
Aileen Stevens was teaching Sunday School that morning at their church in Rutherford County, her family said.
At the time, the couple didn’t know that the driver, Dangelo Dorsey, 29, had just committed a series of deadly crimes nearby, authorities said.
Dorsey had opened fire inside a moving vehicle, killing one person and wounding another, then jumped out of the car as traffic slowed down, said David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. While attempting to carjack a different vehicle, he had allegedly shot a woman in the hand then exchanged words with a truck driver before shooting him in the face.
The Stevens were unaware. They pulled over after he rammed into their car, and their hours-long nightmare began.
“They stopped, believing it to be a fender-bender, and — at that point — Dorsey took them hostage at gunpoint,” the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.
By the time the ordeal ended later that afternoon, Jordan Stevens, 23, was dead along with Darcey Johnson, 28, the man in the initial moving car. Four others were injured, including Aileen Stevens.
Suspect forced them to drive to their house
Aileen Stevens, 23, is a kindergarten teacher and is four months pregnant with their first child — a daughter. Her husband was working hard at his construction job to provide for his growing family, said her brother, Eliezer Rostran.
The high school sweethearts would go to church together, then spend time with family afterward. Aileen Stevens’ mother attends the same church and got worried when she didn’t see them that morning. “That’s how she knew something was wrong,” Rostran said.
After Dorsey took the couple hostage, he forced them to drive to their home in Morrison, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. Morrison is about halfway between Chatanooga and Nashville. While there, he allegedly stole two of their guns, swapped vehicles with a Toyota RAV4 and forced them into the vehicle with him.
At some point, he took the couple to a location in the McMinnville area and fatally shot Jordan Stevens in front of his wife, authorities said. Then he forced Aileen Stevens back into the SUV and returned to the interstate, the TBI said.
Police later recovered Jordan Stevens’ body along Interstate 24 westbound near Exit 111-B, Rausch said in a statement.
Law enforcement from multiple agencies were working to find the SUV, and located it shortly after 3:30 p.m., leading to a pursuit that reached speeds of over 100 mph. The SUV crashed and flipped 15 minutes later, authorities said.
“At that point, Dorsey took his own life. The female hostage was safely recovered,” Rausch said.
Couple prayed for him during ordeal, brother says
During the long and terrifying ordeal, the couple prayed for the suspect while in the vehicle, Rostran said.
“He was going to release them, he asked, ‘would you pray for me?’ They prayed, Jordan prayed … Some people don’t care about God, but God is good, and is always faithful,” Rostran said.
After spending a few days in the hospital, Aileen Stevens is now at home recuperating surrounded by her family. She’s heartbroken but is trying to stay strong for her baby. The random act of violence changed their lives forever, her brother said, but they’re focused on her healing.
She’s holding on to her faith, her family said, and especially the Bible verse Romans 8:28. It says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Jordan Stevens will be laid to rest Friday, and their friends have started a GoFundMe account to raise money to support his wife and child.
“We want everyone to know that my sister does not hate the actions of the subject. She doesn’t hate the family either. She prays for mercy and loving kindness for all families involved,” Rostran said.
Investigators are working to determine a motive
The suspect knew the victims in the initial incident that involved the moving vehicle, TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said, but did not provide further information. The other targets appear to be random.
Dorsey was from St. Louis, Missouri, and had no arrest record in Tennessee. While he had an extensive criminal record in his home state, the TBI said, he he had no outstanding warrants at the time of Sunday’s rampage.
Authorities are trying to gather information and evidence in what they called a long and complex investigation. They’re asking anyone with pictures, video or details on the case to reach out.
“We are working to determine a motive, along with a thorough understanding of the facts of the case, which — in turn — will be submitted to the District Attorney General who requested our involvement for further review,” DeVine said.
He said the people injured in the rampage are expected to recover.
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