The teenager, identified as Xavier McDonald, had fired on police in Nashboro Village, hitting Officer John Downs in the leg, according to police spokesman Don Aaron. Four officers returned fire, killing McDonald at the scene.
In a column published by The Tennessean, Bishop Joseph W. Walker III of Mt. Zion Baptist Church said the incident highlighted the need for church and community leaders to work together to mentor troubled teens.
"Parents, churches (mine included), schools and community organizations must put at the top of our list the mentoring of this generation," he wrote. "We must be willing to join our efforts together. Issues of hopelessness and despair continue to permeate our society and as a result a blatant disregard for life has begun to emerge."
The incident began Sunday afternoon when police were called to the area to investigate a robbery. The robbery victim told police he had come to the neighborhood to give a woman a ride when two males robbed him.
The investigation led police to unit 825 in the Hunter's Trace complex in Nashboro Village, a collection of residential complexes southeast of the airport near Murfreesboro Road. When they arrived, Aaron said, a woman allowed officers inside, where they saw McDonald and others.
When an officer attempted to pat McDonald down, he barricaded himself in the bathroom, Aaron said. Officers then called in negotiators and the force's special response team.
As McDonald emerged from the bathroom and proceed to walk out the front door of the condo, an officer tried unsuccessfully to take him into custody with a Taser. McDonald then fired a semiautomatic handgun at the officers around 7:30 p.m., Aaron said, hitting Downs, who was to the right of the door.
"He came out firing," Aaron said.
Downs, an 18-year veteran of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, was shot in the leg near his groin. Downs, 42, is in stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, although Aaron said his recovery will require multiple surgeries.
"I'm praying for the officer," said Metro Councilwoman Karen Johnson, whose Antioch-area district includes Nashboro Village. "It's a very unfortunate situation that has happened. It's just tragic all the way around for both the officer and the 16-year-old that was involved as well."
Aaron said McDonald had a juvenile record, although confidentiality laws shield details about that record. He was enrolled in Metro Schools' transitional program for students who have had previous issues with the Juvenile Court.
Police had listed the African-American teen as a runaway on Dec. 7, when he left a Holder Drive home after he allegedly threatened to shoot his mother.
Aaron said that McDonald and his mother began fighting that day when he arrived home after curfew. His mother saw a white box in his pocket and grabbed it, Aaron said. A scuffle ensued.
During the scuffle, Aaron said, the box fell to the ground and bullets fell out. McDonald's mother told police that he scooped up some of the bullets and threatened to shoot her.
McDonald's mother said she saw a gun at his waistband before he fled, although he did not draw the gun during that incident.
"The prayers of our community should go out to this young man's family as well as the officer involved," Walker said in his column.
Walker stressed that the community should not rush to judge McDonald, but rather should work together to create a more positive environment for young people.
"This is not the time to point fingers or use language that lumps this event into recent events around the country," he said. "This is a time for our city to truly begin to work collaboratively and seek solutions to an array of longstanding social ills."
The officers who fired Sunday night, Lieutenant Ken Spencer, Sergeant Robert Nielsen, Sergeant Brian Gottschall and Officer Brandon Vance, are on routine administrative assignment while the investigation continues, according to police.
Witnesses, including the officers involved, were being interviewed overnight at police headquarters. Police are planning to release more information about the later Monday, although a press conference has not been set.
Nashboro Village resident David Barton, who lives near the condo where the shooting took place, could not get into his home because of the investigation. He described his neighborhood as a middle-class melting pot that is typically safe. It's the kind of place where you can leave your door unlocked or walk your dogs late at night without worrying, he said.
Said Barton: "It's normally pretty quiet."
Officer-involved shootings in Metro Nashville have been relatively rare in recently years.
Earlier this year, two Metro police officer shot and killed a woman after she allegedly pointed a pistol at them. Police had been called to her home after her daughter reported that her mother was threatening to kill herself and had started shooting at the family's dog.
In March, Aaron Dino Smith Jr., 51, a parolee from Franklin, was shot and killed by Nashville police after they said he stole a car at gunpoint and led officers on an hour-long pursuit.
Smith was outside Roma Pizza on Elliston Place and police said he pointed one of two guns in his hands toward five officers.
The heaviest year for police-involved shootings for Metro police was 2010, when there were at least four incident involving six people.
In March of that year, undercover officer Justin Fox interrupted an early-morning robbery at a Brentwood hotel. During the encounter, the robbers ordered two officers to the ground at gunpoint, punching and kicking them. In the end, one of the officers spun around and shot all three suspects.
That same year, officer Joe Shelton shot and killed 40-year-old Reginald Dewayne Wallace, who was robbing an Edgehill home. Shelton repeatedly told Wallace to get down. Instead, Wallace reached into his pocket, and Shelton fired. Wallace was pulling out an iPod.
Just a few days earlier, officer Michael Hunnicutt shot Pedro Valencia Barragan, 31, after Barragan stabbed Officer John Timm during a domestic violence call.
In 2010 in Lebanon, Gregory Thompson was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting in Lebanon during a pursuit with officers.
Thompson had driven off an embankment on Carthage Highway during a chase. According to statements, an officer went down the embankment on foot and his weapon discharged when he slipped causing another officer to fire resulting in Thompson's death.
The shooting has resulted in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Thompson's stepmother Melinda Thompson now on appeal with the 6th Circuit Court.
In 2008 and 2009, there were two Metro officer-involved shootings per year.
Adam Tamburin, Tom Wilemon, Holly Meyer and Andy Humbles contributed to this report.