In Memphis, Renewed Attention on Violence After Shooting Rampage – The New York Times

September 10, 2022 by No Comments

MEMPHIS — Memphis had already been on edge. Just days earlier, a kindergarten teacher had been abducted on an early morning jog in the city and was later found dead.

But on Wednesday, the city felt paralyzed. That night, a gunman set off a frenzied manhunt with a string of shootings that left a trail of bloodshed across Memphis, killing four people, wounding three others and causing widespread alarm until he was cornered by the police and taken into custody.

Now, the day after the rampage, fear had settled into fury, stoking a renewed sense of anger and concern over violence in Memphis.

“I’m angry that our citizens had to shelter in place for their own safety until the suspect was caught,” Jim Strickland, the mayor of Memphis, said in a news conference on Thursday. “This is no way for us to live, and it is not acceptable.”

Memphis has long struggled with chronic poverty and crime and is often ranked among the nation’s most violent cities. Its troubles have intensified in recent years. In 2021, the city had a record number of killings, with 346. In 2022, the violent crime rate compared with last year’s has only marginally improved, according to police statistics.

The recent violence has inflamed tensions over crime and policing, prompting calls for bolstering the city’s police force. It has also stirred broader fears about how violence and crime are undermining the city’s development.

“I think people are overwhelmed,” Chase Carlisle, a city councilman, said in an interview on Thursday, “and I think they’re scared, and I think they’re looking for answers as to why this is happening and how do we curb it.”

Police officials said the violence had started after midnight on Wednesday, when a gunman shot and killed a 24-year-old man in a driveway. But the most intense period started after 4 p.m., when the Memphis police reported two shootings by the same gunman in nearby locations. In one, a man was found fatally shot in his car, the police said, and at the other, a woman had been shot in the leg.

More than an hour later, the police said, the gunman, identified by the authorities as Ezekiel Kelly — who was then streaming live on Facebook — charged into an auto-parts store and opened fire, critically wounding one man there. The gunman then fatally shot a woman during a carjacking. After that, he fatally shot another woman and wounded a man, the police said. The gunman then stole another vehicle at gunpoint in Southaven, a Memphis suburb just over the state line in Mississippi.

The police then pursued Mr. Kelly in a high-speed chase that led him back into Memphis, where he was arrested shortly after 9 p.m., officials said.

“This has been a horrific week for the city of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department,” the police chief, Cerelyn Davis, said during a news conference in which she detailed the harrowing chain of events on Wednesday.

Chief Davis also noted the anguish still rippling through Memphis after the killing of Eliza Fletcher, the 34-year-old teacher and …….



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