A 19-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday after live-streaming part of a shooting that left four dead and three others injured and disrupted life across Memphis as residents were told to shelter in place, a announced the police.
The hours-long rampage led to the suspension of public bus and streetcar service and halted a minor league baseball game. It left the town’s mayor enraged at wanton violence and came less than a week after the high-profile kidnapping and murder of a jogging teacher.
“I’m angry for them, and I’m angry for our fellow citizens who had to shelter in place for their own safety until this suspect was caught. It’s not a way of life for us and it’s not acceptable,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
“The people of our city have faced a type of violence that no one should have to deal with.”
At least one of the shootings was apparently broadcast on Facebook Live – which ultimately led to the arrest of Ezekiel Kelly following a high-speed chase, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” said. Davis at a press conference early Thursday.
Kelly was released from prison in March after serving 11 months of a three-year sentence for aggravated assault. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge after initially facing charges including attempted murder, reckless endangerment and using a firearm with intent to commit a dangerous crime. in a 2020 case in Shelby County, according to court records.
“If Mr. Kelly served his full three-year sentence, he would still be in prison today, and four of our fellow citizens would still be alive,” Strickland said.
Kelly, also known as Zeek Huncho, is due in court Friday, according to prison records. He is being held for first-degree murder, although officials have said they expect further felony charges.
The shooting began before 1 a.m. Wednesday and continued late into the evening, triggering a shelter-in-place order part of town as police searched for the shooter.
“Our citizens of Memphis and Shelby County were going about their business…leaving work, picking up the kids from daycare, going about their regular lives, when suddenly everything was shattered,” Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said. . “Many families will never, ever recover from the horrific violence that we saw, that one individual inflicted on the city tonight.”
The first shooting was reported around 12:56 a.m. in the 3100 block of Lyndale Avenue. Officers found a male victim in an alley and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Davis said.
Three witnesses at the scene — friends of the victim and the alleged shooter — positively identified Kelly from a photo line, according to an arrest affidavit.
The victim was identified as Dewayne Tunstall, who was with four other friends when Kelly pulled him aside, according to the affidavit. Tunstall was shot in the head.
At 4:38 p.m., officers responded to another shooting in the 900 block of South Parkway East, where they found a man in his vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Video surveillance from a nearby business captured the shooter pulling up next to the victim in a gray sedan and firing several shots before driving off, Davis said.
Minutes later, at 4:40 p.m., officers responded to a shooting at Norris Road and I-240, where a woman was shot in the leg. She was taken to hospital in non-critical condition. The suspect fled in a dark-colored sedan, Davis said.
More than an hour later, at 5:59 p.m., officers arrived at the scene of another shooting at a store in the 4000 block of Jackson Avenue. “Ezekiel Kelly was on Facebook Live when he opened fire inside the store,” Davis said.
Officers found a man with gunshot wounds. He was taken to hospital in critical condition.
Shortly after, at 6:12 p.m., police received a call that someone named “Zeek Huncho” was live on Facebook saying he was “threatening to harm citizens,” Davis said.
The Memphis Police Department then launched a citywide search for an “armed and dangerous” suspect, urging some residents to shelter in place.
At 7:23 p.m., another shooting was reported in the Poplar Avenue and North Evergreen area, where a woman had been fatally shot. The shooter fled the scene with the victim’s vehicle, a gray SUV, Davis said.
A minute later, officers again responded to a shooting on Poplar Avenue and found a man who had been shot. He was taken to hospital in non-critical condition, Davis said.
Then, at 8:55 p.m., officers responded to the 800 block of West Raines Road where a woman with gunshot wounds was pronounced dead, according to Davis. She was the seventh gunshot victim of the frenzy.
At 8:56 p.m., the Southaven, Mississippi, police department responded to the Stateline Road and Highway 51 area, regarding a carjacking, Davis said. Police say Kelly hijacked a victim at gunpoint, taking a gray Dodge Challenger, leaving the gray SUV behind. The victim was not injured. Southhaven is just across the border from Memphis.
Two minutes later, at 8:58 p.m., Memphis police spotted the Challenger on I-55 and Kelly was arrested without incident after a high-speed chase.
The chief said two weapons were visible in the vehicle when Kelly was apprehended. “Many felony charges are pending,” she added.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said it is working closely with law enforcement on the case.
The social media giant said it was in contact with the department shortly after police issued their first public alerts and have since removed video content that may be related to the incident.
The spate of shootings disrupted life in the city on Wednesday as police issued alerts about their search for the suspect. The Memphis Area Transit Authority has suspended bus and streetcar services, citing active shooter hazard.
AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis was evacuated during a minor league baseball game hosted by the Redbirds, WMC-TV reported. The suspended second game of a doubleheader was scheduled to resume late Thursday afternoon, according to the team’s website.
The shooting took place on the same day the man suspected of kidnapping and killing Memphis teacher Eliza “Liza” Fletcher was temporarily held without bail on a murder charge that was added after identification of his body.
Cleotha Henderson is charged with killing Fletcher early Friday.
Fletcher’s disappearance sparked an intense chase – backed by surveillance video that police say showed her being forced into an SUV while jogging – that led to Henderson’s arrest near from his home in Memphis on Saturday.
Fletcher’s body was found near a vacant duplex on Monday and was publicly identified on Tuesday, authorities said.
The teacher’s violent death reverberated through the Tennessee town, which was again rocked by Wednesday’s shooting.
“We have to stop this madness. We’re pointing… My question to everyone, before you point that finger, ask yourself, what are you doing? Community activist Stevie Moore told CNN affiliate WMC TV on Wednesday night.