Three young siblings are newly orphaned after their mother was fatally gunned down by a livestreaming mass shooter who terrorized the city of Memphis for more than 20 hours on Wednesday.
“Watched my own momma die in front of me,” Ariana Parker, 20, posted on Instagram in the hours following Allison Parker’s death. “Fuck this city.”
The Parker kids lost their father two years ago, to unspecified causes, according to a relative who launched a fundraiser on Thursday for the family.
Suspect Ezekiel Kelly, 19, is accused of shooting Parker, 38, as he carjacked the beloved medical assistant’s Toyota SUV Wednesday evening. Parker, who worked at a local medical practice, was one of four victims to die in the citywide murder spree, part of which Kelly streamed live on Facebook. At least three other people were shot during the tragic rampage, but survived.
The senseless violence burst into view shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, when cops got a call about a shooting at a home in the Binghampton section of Memphis. The victim, identified as Dewayne Tunstall in a probable cause affidavit reviewed by The Daily Beast, was there visiting a friend along with four others including Kelly, it states. At one point, Kelly “pulled Tunstall, 24, to the side,” drew a handgun, and fired several shots, hitting Tunstall in the head, according to the affidavit.
Kelly then fled, going quiet until 4:38 p.m.
That’s when cops say he shot a man multiple times, killing him. At 4:40 p.m., Kelly shot a woman in the leg, causing non-fatal injuries, police said.
Just before 6 o’clock, Kelly headed to an AutoZone store about 10 miles away, broadcasting to social media as he entered the premises.
Immediately after walking through the front door, Kelly can be seen opening fire on a customer later identified as Rodolfo Berger. On Thursday, Berger’s daughter posted an update on Facebook, saying her father had been seriously injured but was alive.
“I’m still thinking I’m going to wake up from this viral nightmare,” Jenny Berger wrote. “He’s out of surgery now and under extreme care. I was able to breathe and calm down. He’s needing another surgery and I can feel in my heart he is so STRONG and ready for a journey of healing ahead. I will be with him soon. Thank you all for your messages, prayers and healing vibrations. Much needed and appreciated.”
Kelly continued streaming, vowing to “cause harm to citizens,” Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis told reporters. At about 7:23 p.m., officers responded to another shooting, this one in the city’s North Evergreen district.
There, Kelly shot Allison Parker in front of her daughter, according to a timeline released by authorities. He stole her vehicle and continued wreaking havoc on Memphians.
A few minutes later, a man who has not yet been publicly identified was shot about a half-mile away. He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, cops said.
Tasha Reynolds lives nearby, and had just gotten home when she heard a commotion break out. At first, she thought it was a car accident. Then, Reynolds “heard gunshots, and heard somebody scream.”
At first, Reynolds thought it may have been a drive-by shooting, she told The Daily Beast. But she soon learned there was an active shooter on the loose, and realized she and her boyfriend had “narrowly missed [Kelly] by maybe a minute.”
Reynolds, who is a Lyft driver, grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Memphis more than 30 years ago. She said that every passenger she picked up on Thursday was eager to talk about the shootings, and that everyone had similar feelings.
“One was a college student at the University of Memphis, she said her mother is actually planning on moving and wants her to switch schools and go out of state,” Reynolds said. “People are scared.”
The final victim, 17-year-old Corteria Wright, was shot in the back around 8:55 p.m.
“Life will never be the same!!!!!” Wright’s father posted on Facebook, adding a series of broken heart emojis and crying faces. “I Love You Baby.”
In another posting, he wrote, “I don’t know what your plans are God,but you broke me with this one! My Baby.”
And on YouTube, in a heart-wrenching clip, he pleaded, “Please stop the violence, I’m begging y’all.”
At 8:58 p.m., police finally descended on Kelly, who was now driving a stolen Dodge Challenger. After a high-speed chase, officers placed Kelly under arrest “without incident,” authorities announced, revealing that two weapons were found inside the car. Additional charges are pending, cops said.
Kelly,—who went by the name “Zeek Huncho” online, where he regularly posed with guns and stacks of cash—was indicted in 2020 on an attempted murder charge, according to court filings. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser count of aggravated assault, and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutors floated the plea deal after the “case kind of fell apart,” his public defender in the case, Juni Ganguli, told The Daily Beast on Thursday.
“There were some problems,” Ganguli said, noting that the witnesses who had identified Kelly as a suspect later became “uncertain” about their memories. “His age, lack of a criminal record, and so I got [the prosecutor] to agree to reduce the charges dramatically.”
Kelly had already spent about a year in jail awaiting trial, according to Ganguli. It might have been a year or more before a trial even got underway, according to Ganguli. And if convicted, Kelly—who Ganguli said continued to maintain his innocence—was facing “decades” behind bars.
“We showed the prosecutor that these witnesses weren’t certain, there was nothing that really connected Ezekiel to the shooting, there was no motive,” Ganguli said. “Ezekiel realized he would be facing a gigantic amount of time and he took a lesser charge. It was three years, and he had a substantial amount of jail credit, and so we made the decision that if he took the deal he would be out before his case would go to trial. And so he took the deal, and he was released shortly thereafter.”
With time served, Kelly wound up doing 11 months. He was released this past March. After Wednesday’s massacre, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland angrily criticized the state’s court system, arguing that if Kelly had served his full sentence, “four of our fellow citizens would still be alive.”
The murders have rocked Memphis, coming on the heels of another high-profile murder just last week. On Monday, Memphis police discovered the body of 34-year-old teacher Eliza Fletcher, who disappeared while out for a run a few days earlier. Cleotha Abston, 38, is now charged with killing Fletcher. He was released from prison in November 2020 after spending 20 years locked up for aggravated kidnapping.
“I mean, he is a bad dude,” Abston’s uncle told The Daily Beast after his nephew’s arrest. “What else is there to say?”
Kelly is being held without bail. He is due back in court on Friday.
—Decca Muldowney contributed reporting.
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