Manhunt underway after donation jar with $3K stolen, suspect flees officers

Aaron Gooch (Courtesy: Dickson County Police Department)
Aaron Gooch (Courtesy: Dickson County Police Department)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A region-wide manhunt in western Tennessee is underway Tuesday as authorities search for a felon who has already stolen several vehicles and fled from police multiple times.

His name is Aaron Gooch, and he’s accused of stealing from a donation jar for a dead teenager Saturday night.

Since then, officials say he has stolen four cars and been in multiple high-speed chases.

Aaron Gooch (Courtesy: Dickson County Police Department)
Aaron Gooch (Courtesy: Dickson County Police Department)

It all began with a tragic fire in Dickson last week when Nadia Garcia, 18, was killed in the horrific blaze.

She worked at a Mexican restaurant where they started a donation jar for her family. By Friday night, they had reportedly collected $3,000.

Video shows Gooch walk into the restaurant and look around. When no one is looking, he steals the donations off the counter and leaves.

Police say he was riding with 24-year-old Courtney White in a stolen car out of Clarksville.

“Our info is there may be some type of weapon in the vehicle,” said Lt. Todd Christian of the Dickson Police Department.

Courtesy: Dickson County Police Department
(Courtesy: Dickson County Police Department)

After a dangerous chase Monday, Gooch wrecked the stolen car and escaped into the woods. The woman was arrested and a fraction of the donations were recovered.

By Tuesday morning, investigators thought they had Gooch pinned down in a Benton County motel. Again, he escaped.

Police told News 2 Gooch then stole a third vehicle in as many days—a 1985 red pickup truck.

“He won’t stop for law enforcement. If you leave your vehicle unsecured, there’s a good chance if he stops in your area, he will take your vehicle,” Lt. Christian explained.

He allegedly stole his fourth car Tuesday afternoon—a green Jeep Wrangler in Benton County.

Gooch has a prior record for car theft, assault, an burglary. Anyone with information should call Dickson police at 615-446-8041 ext. 4.

News 2 is committed to tracking crime across Middle Tennessee. Visit wkrn.com/crimetracker for the latest.