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Morton claims self defense in Mt. Leo shooting
McMinnville Police Department says Justin Nunley was shot multiple times and killed by this vehicle which was parked at Marathon Market in Mt. Leo. Nunley, 32, was the father of two.

A man was gunned down outside a Mt. Leo area convenience store Saturday night, the shooter claiming self-defense in the killing.

The fatally-wounded man, Justin Nunley, 32, of nearby Old Harrison Ferry Road, was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Thomas River Park Hospital. His shooter, David Morton, 41, was questioned by police after they found him still clutching the smoking gun when they arrived moments after receiving the call from Marathon Market.

Police were summoned just before 8 p.m. and were told that there had been a shooting at the store, located at the confluence of Beersheba Street and Highway 8 just inside the McMinnville city limits. They found Nunley mortally wounded in the parking lot, lying on the pavement on the Beersheba Highway side of the store. Morton, who immediately confessed to being the shooter, was found with the 380 handgun used in the shooting still in his possession. 

Morton told police he acted in self-defense during an altercation. Nunley suffered numerous bullet wounds. Police are waiting on autopsy results to reveal how many times Nunley was shot. It is suspected, however, that he may have been hit around four times in the upper body. It is also suspected a couple of rounds may have missed him.

“Mr. Morton advised he had been attacked by Mr. Nunley, which prompted him to defend himself,” revealed McMinnville Police Lt. Detective Nichole Mosley of Morton’s version of events. “He (Nunley) was located on the ground, clutching a knife.”

Police believe there was an altercation between the men at the store which escalated to the deadly showdown. The fight was reportedly over a woman who worked at the market and both men happened to cross paths at the store.

Charges are pending in the case as the MPD, district attorney’s office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation continue looking into the killing.

Nunley’s death comes just under ten years after his older brother, Chad Nunley, was gunned down by Billy Joe Griffin outside a house party on Harrison Ferry Mountain in May 2006. Griffin claimed self-defense in that case, saying the elder Nunley came at him with intent to do him harm. Griffin was acquitted by a jury on second-degree murder charges after serving one year in jail while awaiting trial.

Saturday night’s killing is the second fatal shooting in the Mt. Leo area in just over a month. Osbaldo Luna, 43, was gunned down in his trailer as he slept, about a mile away from Saturday’s killing, in early January. Six Coffee County youths have been charged for his murder, all confessing to their roles in the botched robbery.