The execution-style slayings of two pizzeria employees in a well-traveled, "safe'' area on White Bridge Road are the latest in a string of fatal shootings involving restaurant and market workers in Davidson County.

While police search for the killers of Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders manager Chris Caris, 33, and employee Joshua Cole, 18, they are assuring residents that the violence is not random and that residents should feel safe in traditionally low-crime areas of town.

"It's a very safe area, and as we have learned the suspected shooter . is a former employee,'' said Metro police spokesman Don Aaron.

Saturday, police announced they were looking for three men in connection with Friday's 10 p.m. slayings, which occurred while four employees and one customer were in the restaurant.

The shooting suspect is Jason S. Bobo, 21, of Memphis, who was terminated from the eatery in May, Aaron said. Police identified Bobo based on witness accounts and surveillance video from the restaurant, Aaron said.

According to witnesses, two men walked into the pizzeria and one of them approached the counter and asked about ordering a pizza before returning to his waiting partner.

As the sole customer walked up to the counter to check on an order, the two men produced handguns and ordered everyone to get on the floor. Then the men ordered Caris to get money from the office, Aaron said.

"The surveillance video clearly shows that these two young men were executed," Aaron said.

"There was absolutely no provocation whatsoever for harming them. At this time in the investigation, we believe that the robbery was the primary motive."

Police could not say with certainty why the other two employees and the customer were unharmed as the killers fled, dropping money along the way.

Mourners visit store

While police look for the three suspects, Dwight Cole, Joshua Cole's grandfather -
or "Big Pa" - tries to stay strong.

"This is a crime committed by the scumbag of this earth against a person who could have contributed to the ball of earth we're on," Cole said, his voice breaking, his eyes welling with tears.

"Joshua was real good at school. He wanted to be that person who's a good employee.''

The grandfather referred to the suspects as "things,'' while acknowledging that it was unkind for him to do that.

The pizzeria was closed Saturday.

A sign asking customers to "please pray'' for the victims was taped to the door. A framed picture of Joshua sat on the pavement near the entrance, surrounded by burning candles and roses.

People, many of them teenagers, visited the restaurant throughout the afternoon to leave more flowers. Some cried while others just stood in silent grief.

Joining the mourners was Susanne Frensley, an art history teacher at Hillsboro High School, where Joshua Cole graduated in May. He took Frensley's Advanced Placement art history class, she said.

"He was a neat kid, a really good kid," said Frensley, her eyes red from crying. "He had a big heart. This is a real wake-up call for Nashville.''

Two roses and a handwritten letter were stuck behind windshield wipers of an SUV parked in a parking lot in front of the store. The note was addressed to Chris Caris.

"We love you and you will always and forever be in our hearts," the letter read.

Neighbor is afraid

Melissa Ousley, the manager of Pier 1 store next door, chatted with those who stopped by the restaurant. She admitted being afraid.

"It's this feeling of being unsafe when we're here at night," she said. "Paranoia right now is a good word. You feel like it could happen anywhere."


Police arrested two people they believe are responsible for the shooting deaths of two Bellacino's Pizza and Grinders employees during a robbery Friday night.

Police said Jason S. Bobo, 21, a former employee who was fired for theft in May, and his friend, Crystle Rutherford, 18, a Whites Creek High School student, confessed to the killings. Manager Chris Caris and employee Joshua Cole were shot in their heads.

Police arrested Bobo at an ex-girlfriend's home Monday.

Bobo and Rutherford are each being charged with two counts of criminal homicide.

Police said the pair confessed to the robbery and murders.

Police said Bobo targeted the business for robbery because he was familiar with its layout and operation. He didn't say why Caris and Cole were shot to death, but noted Caris could have identified him.

Rutherford was arrested at her home Tuesday night. She also admitted to being armed and an accomplice.

Another person drove the pair to the area and another took them away after the shootings.

Police said detectives interviewed both drivers, who have not been charged at present.

Metro schools said Rutherford was not a troublemaker in school. Her family is also shocked about what happened.

"It angers me," said Alex Evans, Rutherford's uncle. "All types of thoughts running through my head. I have things I would like to do to Jason Bobo."

On Tuesday morning, family and friends laid Cole to rest.

As they move forward, they're hoping justice will be served now that Bobo is behind bars.

"He only lived 18 years," said Cole's father Lance Martin. "I'm not going to be able to see him succeed. ... He was on the right path.

Friends described Cole as a good guy and someone people loved to be around.

"He was the center of their life," said uncle Darnell Cole. "You would have thought a dignitary had died because there were so many people here from all walks of life."

Cole's best friend Tim Guthrie worked at the restaurant with Bobo and the victims.

"He knew Josh," Guthrie said about Bobo. "We worked with him. We both worked with him. He knew Josh very well. He knew Chris well. All I want to know is why."

This is a question the families may not ever have answered.

Martin said the perpetrators need to be executed.

"I would like to see him come down here and see what he's done," Martin said. "He stole a part of our family."

"He was a good big brother," said Cole's little sister Hannah Martin.

He was an older brother who gave her plenty of good memories.

Cole's family knows he's gone, but through Hannah he'll never be forgotten.

"Right here, I don't know, I hope she follows in his footsteps," Lance Martin said. "He was a great person, good guy."

One friend described Cole as gravity because "everyone circled around him."

The hardest part for his family is trying to explain the tragedy to some of the younger relatives and convince them that they will be safe whenever they go out to eat.

Cole's family said it will be a long time before things return to normal for them because there's a hole in their family that will never be filled.

Bobo and Rutherford are expected to appear in court on Friday.

Cole's family needs help paying for funeral expenses. Donations are being accepted at the Bank of America branch in Bellevue.