“My dad died of Alzheimer’s and we didn’t have no insurance. They took his place from me when he died and I was on the streets,” he told me while thinking back on his life. He told me that he is 41-years old and graduated from Smyrna High School in 1994. He later came to Nashville where he currently lives on the street.
“Do you stay at the mission,” I asked. “No, it is too much like a prison, but they have to keep it that way to keep it safe,” he explained. He went on to tell me that the mission is a good place for many, just not for him. “One guy got stabbed there like fifty times,” he told me. I suggested that many on the street have extreme mental illnesses or problems with addiction which you see magnified in some shelters.
Examining the Stabbing that he mentioned (My sidetrack):
In 2007, Frank Edward Nixon stabbed Joseph Mark Chandler approximately fifty times. The two were staying at the mission and were inside the building when the stabbing occurred. But, the stabbing was not a random event that occurred. One week prior to the stabbing, the two had an incident on the streets of Nashville. Evidently the victim tried to sell drugs to Nixon, but Nixon changed his mind and Chandler and another man beat up and robbed Nixon, according to court documents.
The stabbing took place at 7:30 in the morning on February 9, 2007. Nixon entered the shelter and headed to the TV room where he recognized Chandler from his previous encounter with the victim. Nixon briefly walked out of the shelter to smoke a cigarette and then re-entered first heading to his locker to retrieve a knife. He later went back into the TV room where Chandler had fallen asleep in a chair. Nixon then started stabbing Chandler.
With the first knife wound Chandler awoke and tried to run from Nixon, but fell to the ground where the stabbing continued. Homeless men in the shelter heard the commotion and rushed to the aid of Chandler. Those men held Nixon until police arrived. Their actions prevented Chandler from being stabbed to death. The victim was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center where he spent four days in intensive care. He then spent three more days in the hospital recovering from surgery due to punctured lungs sustained in the attack.
In case you are curious, Nixon told the courts his marriage failed and he turned to drugs. He soon found himself homeless. Prior to his marriage failing, Nixon served in the U.S. Air Force and later the Air National Guard. He also spent several years in college at Savannah State University in Georgia. He testified in court that he originally turned to drugs to cope with “traumatic things that happened to [him] on Okinawa.” Prior to the stabbing he was a mentor to children at the Juvenile Justice Center and a “Volunteer Preacher.”
Today, Nixon is out of prison and 63-years old. He now lives in Georgia.