Josh Dotts, 22, Smalling Road, Lafayette and Timothy Weber, 21, of Lebanon were arrested Thursday, August 24 and charged by Nashville Metro Police in connection with the death of Tara Cole, 32, the sleeping homeless woman who drowned after she was pushed into the Cumberland River on August 11.
Police said the men were drunk and engaged in a spree of harassing homeless people on the night of the tragic incident which has received wide coverage in the past two weeks.
Statements that two friends gave police were reported to have said the men had come downtown with plans to rough up people sleeping on downtown streets near Riverfront Park. The two men are considered witnesses and have not been charged in the woman's death.
Dotts and Webber were charged Thursday with criminal homicide in connection with Cole's death, and with aggravated assault on a homeless man who was hit in the face with a bottle earlier that night. Both men are being held in Metro jail pending a preliminary hearing of the charges against them.
Surveillance videos along Second Avenue captured images of the four men. They matched the description given to police by witnesses who had seen the men push the sleeping woman into the river. Those videos were given to Nashville television media, and three of the four men contacted police after seeing themselves on TV, a police spokesman said.
The four men were reported to have separated during a foot chase after Dotts allegedly struck Jessie Masters, 26, in the face with a bottle. Dotts and Webber then went back to the park and saw Cole sleeping near the river. Police believe Webber was the person who jumped a pier railing and pushed the woman into the river.
Several other homeless people in the area went in the water after the woman but were unable to save her from drowning. The incident happened at about 3 a.m. on Friday morning, August 11.
Ms. Cole's death has called attention to the plight of Nashville's homeless community. A vigil was held nightly until the woman's body was recovered more than ten days after she drowned. Divers eventually found the body beneath a barge used for concerts on the river.
DOTTS HAD BEEN CHARGED WITH DUI IN LAFAYETTE JUST 18 HOURS AFTER NASHVILLE HOMELESS WOMAN'S DROWNING DEATH
Josh Dotts, 22, was charged with DUI, in Lafayette, by LPD Sgt. Ray Amalfitano, just 18 hours after witnesses report seeing two men fitting the descriptions of Josh Dotts and Timothy Wheeler push Tara Cole, a homeless woman in Nashville, into the river.
Sgt. Amalfitano reports he pulled Dotts over at 9:30 p.m., on August 11, for squealing tires and speeding, near Hometown Foods. Timothy Webber was a passenger in the car, but Sgt. Amalfitano said Webber was not charged with a violation at that time.