NASHVILLE — A 26-year-old Nashville nurse was fatally shot as she drove down Interstate 440 on Thursday night, Metro Nashville police said.
Police on Friday identified the woman as Caitlyn Kaufman, who worked at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville.
Detectives believe the shooting happened sometime between 6 and 6:30 p.m. while Kaufman was on her way to work for a shift that began at 7 p.m.
Just before 9 p.m., a Metro Parks officer said he saw her Mazda CX-5 SUV on the right shoulder of I-440 against the guard rail and stopped, believing it was a single-car crash. Police said he then discovered bullets were fired into the car.
Kaufman died quickly at the scene after being shot at least once, police said.
“It’s just incredibly heartbreaking and sad given her profession,” said Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron.
Detectives were actively chasing down leads Friday night from multiple tips submitted to Crime Stoppers.
As of Friday night the woman’s killer remained at large, police said, and a motive in the killing wasn’t clear.
Kaufman’s aunt Glenda Lee Kaufman provided a statement to The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network about her niece’s slaying:
“We will forever miss your beautiful face, your love you had for everyone you cared for, your laugh and your smile. You lived your life to its fullest and achieved everything you worked so hard for. We will forever miss you. We love you.
“Please if you know who did this or know any information, please reach out. We will not rest, until this person is brought to justice for taking our Loving Caitlyn.”
Kaufman’s death marked the 97th criminal homicide in the city this year. At this same time last year, 74 people had been slain.
According to her Facebook page, Kaufman worked in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Thomas since 2018, lives in Lebanon, Tennessee and is formerly from Chicora, Pennsylvania, a small town in Butler County, 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Aaron said Kaufman lived in Davidson County for several years before moving to Lebanon.
St. Thomas spokeswoman Michelle Heard said the hospital was providing support services and chaplains for workers for grief counseling.
“We are devastated to learn of the tragic and sudden passing of our ICU nurse Caitlyn Kaufman,” Heard said in a statement. “She was a dedicated and much loved member of our MICU team and a courageous health care hero who was graciously called to serve our patients with compassion and kindness. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family, friends, and you, her colleagues, as we all grieve her heartbreaking passing.”
She’s the third St. Thomas worker slain
Kaufman is the second ICU nurse at St. Thomas West Hospital to be killed in Nashville in less than three years.
Tiffany Ferguson was fatally stabbed inside her home on Feb. 28, 2017. The 23-year-old woman’s killer stabbed her nine times shortly before 6 a.m. in the apartment she shared with two roommates.
In November 2019, Christopher McLawhorn — the 28-year-old stranger who stumbled into her apartment by pure happenstance — was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal crime.
Another employee of the hospital, 27-year-old Ashley Brown, was killed in 2016.
Brown, who worked as a scrub tech, was found dead Dec. 21 at. She had been reported missing four days earlier, after she left a friend’s apartment in West Nashville.
Police said they believe Brown’s body was placed in a dumpster in the vicinity of the apartment building prior to being transported to the refuse facility.
Her death was ruled a homicide by a medical examiner, and the case remained open Friday.
Follow Nashville reporter Rachel Wegner on Twitter @rachelannwegner.
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