MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Local and state officials are reacting after a mass shooting in Memphis left four people dead and three others injured.
Memphis Police say 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly is responsible for several shootings across the city Wednesday. The widespread violence led Memphis Police to issue a shelter-in-place order.
After hours of chaos, Kelly was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
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Many local leaders are responding in the wake of the violence. WREG, WKRN’s sister station in Memphis, received the following statements:
Tennessee Senator London Lamar:
“I’m traumatized just like everyone else. Let’s take a day off tomorrow and start the healing! This week has been overwhelming! I’m also praying for the families of the victims impacted by this tragedy! I hope you can find comfort and continue to believe Memphis deserves your love
We will never forget today but we can heal together! I love Memphis! I love our people! Pray for us!”
Former Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley:
“Pray for Memphis and our surrounding community. We are all devastated by the loss of lives due to crippling crime and our own safety and well-being.”
Tennessee State Senator Raumesh Akbari:
“Memphis!!!! What is going on in my city!? These sick individuals do not represent us and will not ruin our city. They do not define us!! Please stay home and be safe if you are out and about until this individual is arrested. Go home now.”
Southaven Mayor Darren Musslewhite:
“We stand strong in our support of Memphis and the fight against the ongoing heinous behavior. This is a different kind of evil and will be fought with every resource possible in Southaven.”
Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson:
“We own this situation. We as a city or society are responsible because we missed an opportunity to intervene early on, even a generation ago with their parents. He didn’t just become the shooter yesterday. It happened over the last 19 years of his life and we missed him and many, many more of our children. And if we don’t get it right, we will see this again.”
Just City Executive Director Josh Spickler:
“This has been a difficult and tragic week for Memphis. We share in the grief over the violence that has taken so many of our neighbors over the past week. People deserve to be safe and feel secure as they move about our city. We extend our deepest sympathies to those experiencing the pain and anguish of loss.
Just City’s commitment to a safer city is stronger than ever. Our community is suffering from years of disinvestment in neighborhoods and from ineffective policies that have failed us time and time again. Consequently, there are no immediate solutions. People who commit violent crime must be held accountable. But addressing harm and building a system that heals and restores must be our shared goal. Now is the time for a new way. We cannot afford to double down on bad policy, play politics with people’s lives, or prey on their fears. As we have for the past seven years, we will continue to advocate for a more just and fair system that will keep us all safer.”
Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Michelle Taylor:
“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. To learn more about how to get involved, please visit our website: shelbytnhealth.com/.”
U.S. representative Congressman Steve Cohen:
“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.”