'I'm enraged,' says Memphis resident following a shooting rampage that kills four people and injures three more.
MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Authorities sought for a motivation in a rampage shooter's days-long, livestreamed shooting that killed four people and injured three on Thursday.
The slaughter began early on Wednesday. As the urgent hunt for the assailant escalated throughout the day, people in various regions were instructed to seek safety, public bus service was halted, and numerous restaurants and other public facilities were shuttered.
Ezekiel Dejuan Kelly, 19, was caught Wednesday night in neighboring Mississippi after stealing a vehicle.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was outraged when Kelly was charged with attempted first-degree murder two years ago but pled guilty to aggravated assault in April 2021. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but he was freed in March after serving just over two years, including time spent in detention before pleading guilty.
Kelly would still be in jail if he had completed his term, "and four of our fellow Americans would still be alive," said Strickland, who called the criminal justice system a "revolving door" and his sympathies to the victims and their families.
"I am furious for them, and I am outraged that our folks were forced to seek refuge for their own protection until the culprit was apprehended," Strickland said in a statement. "This is not how we can live, and it is intolerable."
In recent weeks, Memphis has been shaken by multiple occurrences, including the murder of a pastor in a carjacking, the death of an activist during a money dispute, and the high-profile kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old teacher and mother of two.
Mary Dudley, who observed police working behind barricades at one of Wednesday's murder locations, said she was not shocked.
"Life in Memphis is like life in a Breaking Bad episode," Dudley remarked.
Facebook Live post leads authorities to suspect
According to Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, officers got a report that Kelly was threatening to "hurt civilians" on Facebook Live. A short time later, police issued a warning and asked residents to remain indoors while they looked for the offender.
According to reports, the shooter uploaded recordings of his attacks to Facebook. The suspected shooting was widely publicized on social media, with individuals posting screen images of the suspect.
Kelly's Facebook videos were deleted off the platform later that night. Kelly's Instagram account was similarly deactivated on Wednesday evening.
Several witnesses observed the initial gunfire.
According to a police affidavit, the first attack happened sometime before 1 a.m. Wednesday. Kelly fatally shot Dewayne Tunstall in the head when he was visiting friends at a Memphis house, according to three witnesses. According to the affidavit, Kelly approached Tunstall, pulled out a revolver, and fired numerous bullets during the dialogue.
Officers attended to three additional crime situations before receiving a report that the guy was livestreaming himself and threatening people, according to Davis.
Carjacking results in arrest
Southaven, Mississippi, police tweeted at 8:53 p.m. Wednesday that they were responding to a car theft at a local gas station. Police flooded the location, which is a few miles south of Memphis, and Kelly was apprehended after causing an accident that ended a high-speed chase.
The motivation for the attacks was not revealed by police. The victims' identities were not immediately published, but according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, two of them are Tunstall, 24, and Allison Parker, a nurse in West Memphis, Arkansas.
The stadium has been cordoned off, and the traffic system has been shut off.
According to police, two automobiles were taken during the rampage. A minor league baseball game at a downtown stadium was shut down. Regular coverage on television was halted in order to keep people informed. Friends and family members texted and called to check on each other's safety. MATA (Memphis Area Transit Authority) has halted bus and streetcar operations.
"MATA personnel are operating with care and concern for their riders and passengers' safety," the transport agency said in a news release issued at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Authorities did not portray a comprehensive picture of Kelly's alleged conduct until the midnight news conference, which span many violent incidents in different Memphis areas and in Mississippi.
"It's been a horrible week for Memphis and the Memphis Police Department," Davis added.