Officials react to senseless shooting spree that terrorized Memphis

·4 min read

In the hours following a shooting spree that left four people dead, three others wounded and most of the Mid-South community terrorized, community leaders and elected officials reacted to the senseless violence.

RELATED: What we know about the victims in shooting spree across Memphis

Allison Parker of West Memphis was one of four people killed during a spree of shootings across Memphis and the Mid-South on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.
Allison Parker of West Memphis was one of four people killed during a spree of shootings across Memphis and the Mid-South on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland

“My words can’t describe how awful I feel for them,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said of the victims from the shooting rampage authorities said was carried out by 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly. “My heart breaks.”

Mayor Strickland also tweeted out a statement, expressing his sympathy and emphasizing how the “Truth in Sentencing” bill may have stopped the random violence as Kelly pled guilty to aggravated assault in April 2021. Kelly was sentenced to three years but only served 11 months. He was released on March 16, 2022, less than six months before the shooting spree on September 7, 2022, the mayor said.


RELATED: 4 people killed, 3 others injured after man goes on shooting spree across Memphis

SHELBY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY STEVE MULROY

Newly-elected Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy released a statement saying that violent offenders deserve the strongest possible response and encouraged anyone dealing with mental health issues to seek help.

As I said when I addressed the media last night, I understand that many people throughout our community are overwhelmed with grief, fear, and sorrow. Many are asking questions about what comes next and what we should do. I am going to pray. Prayers of gratitude for the courageous and swift actions by (Memphis Police) and other law enforcement agencies. Prayers of sympathy and healing for the victims of these horrific crimes. And prayers of hope for the everyone across Memphis & Shelby County. If you know someone who is struggling with mental health - particularly if you know that person is armed - encourage them to get help and if necessary, ask law enforcement to intervene. More than ever, we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other. My unconditional top priority is and will always be the public’s safety. Repeat violent offenders deserve the strongest possible response and as Shelby County’s top law enforcement official, that is what I intend to deliver.

SHELBY COUNTY SHERIFF FLOYD BONNER JR.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. called Kelly’s alleged actions “senseless” and thanked the law enforcement agencies that assisted in capturing the 19-year-old gunman.

“I am outraged by this lawlessness and senseless violence. Thank you to all of the law enforcement agencies and first responders who helped apprehend this individual.”

MEMPHIS POLICE CHIEF C.J. DAVIS

In a press conference shortly after Kelly was captured, Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis also called the shooting spree senseless and, along with thanking law enforcement agencies, expressed her appreciation to the citizens who provided tips that led to Kelly’s arrest.

RELATED: What we know about the man arrested after mass shooting spree across Memphis

CONGRESSMAN STEVE COHEN

Steve Cohen, Tennessee congressman from Memphis, proposed a summit with leaders to address the “harrowing and disturbing” crime situation in his hometown.

“What has been happening in my hometown is harrowing and disturbing. I have been concerned for some time about the crime situation and have spoken with the relevant public officials about addressing the issue. I have suggested convening a summit with the two mayors, the District Attorney General, the Police Director, the Shelby County Sheriff, the school board president and the juvenile court judge. We need a comprehensive approach involving the schools and the juvenile justice system to help reverse these disturbing trends.

“Today I wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland to explain the situation in Memphis, noting the high-profile killings in recent days and weeks, and asking him to look favorably on discretionary grants from the Edward Byrne Memorial Grants Assistance and COPS programs and to provide any and all other assistance available from the Department of Justice. I also asked to speak with him at his earliest convenience.”

SHELBY COUNTY MAYOR LEE HARRIS

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris emphasized the county’s resilience and his hope that the citizens of Shelby County will get through senseless acts of violence like Wednesday’s shooting spree and the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher together.

Over the past week, our community has been upended by senseless, violent criminal behavior. Our prayers go out to the victims and their families. As we all process these events, take comfort that Shelby County is a resilient, hopeful community. Together, we will get through this.

SENATOR RAUMESH AKBARI

Senator Raumesh Akbari of Memphis spoke of frustration from the violence that has been gripping Memphis, saying that Memphis is tired. But, despite the darkness, there are still so many good people in Memphis, Akbari said.

My Lord, its over. Memphis. Our Memphis. Our city. We are tired; we are exhausted. There has been so much loss; too many families grieving. There is so much good in this city that’s being overshadowed by evil. So much light being threatened by darkness. It’s going to take not just elected officials, not just law enforcement, but the entire community to heal our city. Clergy, community leaders, business leaders, everyone. I’m praying. And I’m ready to fight for (Memphis).

PHOTOS: Man on shooting spree in Memphis, police say

A man was shot and killed at a BP gas station on South Parkway.
A man was shot and killed at a BP gas station on South Parkway.

SENATOR LONDON LAMAR

Senator London Lamar of Memphis quoted Psalms and mentioned the need for greater action against gun violence.

“This morning, our families in Memphis are crying out for accountability and justice. We are hoping that, together, we can summon the courage to take real action against gun violence.”

SHELBY COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR DR. MICHELLE TAYLOR

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The Shelby County Health Department released a statement from Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor.

Dr. Taylor spoke about healing the generational trauma that leads to acts of violence like Wednesday’s shooting spree and the murder of Eliza Fletcher, among countless other violent acts in our community.

The shootings last night in Memphis that left four people dead and three injured, and the kidnapping and death of Eliza Fletcher are a wake-up call for our community. Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) extends its deepest sympathies to all the victims, their friends and families, and everyone in our community impacted by this past week’s violent events. We also thank the many law enforcement personnel and first responders who risk their lives every day to bring an end to violent crime in our community and make Memphis a “place of good abode,” as it was called when it was founded.

The principles of public health practice are well suited to implement a violence prevention framework that addresses the root causes of violent crime. The key to addressing the endless cycle of shootings and imprisonment in our community is to heal the generational trauma that makes violence appear to be the only option. Adverse childhood experiences and adverse community experiences have increased over time, due to the structural and institutional failures to address the issues leading to inequality and conflict in our community.

Shelby County Health Department is committed to expanding access to behavioral health resources for everyone throughout their lifespan as a first step to addressing the generational traumas that can lead to community violence. SCHD provides a wide range of prevention and screening services. We are expanding our reach by convening behavioral health resources and acting on our analysis of gun violence as a public health crisis in our community. As a part of that work, SCHD has begun a Cure Violence Global pilot program using a local subcontractor (Heal 901) to replicate Cure Violence’s data-driven, evidence-based approach to crime prevention here in Shelby County.

Please join the Shelby County Health Department in our meaningful and collaborative action to bring an end to the senseless violence that harms everyone in our community.

SHELBY COUNTY COMMISSIONER BRITNEY THORNTON

Shelby County Commissioner Britney Thornton spoke about the impact that this, and so many other, acts of violence collectively have on people.

“It’s not just a one-time event. It’s an everyday occurrence that we are numb to. We are literally numb to these things and that in of it of itself is a problem,” Thornton said.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE G.A. HARDAWAY

State Representative G.A. Hardaway commented on repeat offenders like Kelly who was charged with first-degree attempted murder, among other charges, due to a shooting on February 3, 2020.

“You’ll see something different out of this group. I promise you. We will have comprehensive programs that will get to the root of the problem,” Hardaway said. “If we merely warehouse these men for five years, 10 years, 15 or 20, we will merely end up with angry men who are better criminals than they were when they went in.”

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