Sept. 8 (UPI) — Police in Memphis arrested a 19-year-old man Wednesday night, following a day a violent shootings and carjackings throughout the Tennessee city that resulted in four people killed and three others injured.
The suspect was identified as Ezekiel Kelly, and was taken into police custody at around 9 p.m. Wednesday, after a shooting spree that spanned at least eight crime scenes and some 20 hours, and ended with a high-speed police chase.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis confirmed during an early Thursday press conference that four people were killed in the “mobile mass shooting” and that three others were wounded, including one person who was considered to be in critical condition.
Mayor Jim Strickland described the series of events a “senseless murder rampage.”
“This is no way for us to live and it is not acceptable,” he said. “The people of our city were confronted with the type of violence no one should have to face.”
Davis said the first shooting was reported to police at a residence in the 3100 block of Lyndal Avenue shortly before 1 a.m. with officers arriving to find a man shot dead in his driveway.
The second shooting was reported to officers at 4:38 p.m. in East Parkway South. Police said a man was found dead at the scene in his vehicle.
Two minutes later, police received reports of another shooting at Norris Road and Interstate 240, where a woman was found shot in the leg and transported to a local hospital.
Then at about 6 p.m., officers responded to a shooting at a store in the 400 block of Jackson Avenue.
Davis said Kelly was broadcasting on Facebook Live “when he opened fire.” A man suffering from a gunshot wound was found by police at the scene and transported in critical condition to the hospital.
The police chief said officers were informed of the video and that Kelly had threatened “to cause harm to citizens” during the broadcast, which prompted police to launch a citywide search for the man.
An hour and a half later amid the search, police responded to a shooting at Poplar Avenue and North Evergreen where a woman was shot dead. Authorities learned that Kelly had stolen the woman’s car and had fled the scene.
A minute later, another shooting was reported on Poplar Avenue where a man was found wounded and then transported to the hospital.
At 8:55 p.m., officers were dispatched to reports of a shooting in the 800 block of West Raines Road where a woman was pronounced dead.
And then a minute, police received reports that Kelly had carjacked a grey Dodge Challenger, in which Kelly led officers on a high-speed chase north on Stateline Road that ended with with police taking him into custody unharmed.
Two weapons were found in the vehicle, Davis said, adding numerous “felony charges are pending.”
Strickland added that Kelly had previously been charged with criminal attempted first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated assault in April of 2021.
Kelly was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, but only severed 11 months behind bars and was released in March, Strickland said, while chastising the justice system for “too often [being] a revolving door.”
“We should not be terrorized by anyone who wants to strike fear in our hearts and take away what we love about Memphis,” he said. “We must unite around this principle and stand up to the challenge of violent crime in our city.”
The series of shootings also comes as the city mourns the death of Eliza Fletcher, who was abducted early Friday while out for a jog. Her body was discovered Monday.
Sheriff Floyd Bonner of Shelby County, which includes Memphis, grieved for the community, which he said had been faced “with another senseless, senseless act of violence.”
“Our citizens in Memphis and Shelby County were going about their business — ordinary citizens doing ordinary things: Getting off from work, picking up children from daycare. Just going about their ordinary lives when it was all of a sudden shattered,” he said.
“Many families were shattered tonight. Many families will never, never ever get over the horrific violence that we saw that one individual inflicted on the city tonight.”