Shooting At Tom Lee Park Leaves Folks In The Area Uneasy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Those who live near or enjoy Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis are again uneasy after the second shooting on a busy Sunday in less than two months.

Memphis police said a shootout erupted a little after 7:00 p.m. Two people were injured, including an innocent bystander.


 

Police charged 18-year-old Branden Gray with aggravated assault and unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon. His 17-year-old brother, who was also shot, is also charged with aggravated assault.

A witness told Local 24 they called police earlier Sunday afternoon, hours before the shootout, complaining of cruising, motorcycle racing, and loud music in this area.

“It's unplanned, it's impromptu, and I think you've got a large quantity of people and I think that's going to produce a certain element that could produce guns and violence,” said Mike Candebat, who lives in the area. “There was a ton of traffic and it was in and around that time we heard some police cars, saw a bunch a fire trucks and an ambulance.”

"My friend was saying, they shooting, they shooting, I look back and I see a couple running this way,” said witness Keneisha Craig. "Everyone was running this way, they dropped everything, see the kites laying on the ground, they dropped all of that, and got out of dodge."

Off camera, one witness said she's thankful to be alive after being feet from the gunfire.

The weekend crime followed another shooting in February at the edge of Tom Lee Park, which sent one person to the hospital.

After that shooting, Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings ordered the same number of patrols in late winter that's usually there in spring or summer, including officers on horseback. 

Now, after the second shooting in the area already this year, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is promising action. 

In a statement Monday, Strickland said:

“Sunday’s shooting – along with every other episode of violence in our city in recent weeks and months – is proof of why we prioritize the fight against violent crime above all else. It’s why we’re training the largest class of police officer recruits in seven years, why we’ve made so many moves to retain officers, why we’re fighting for stiffer penalties for those who illegally carry guns, why we’re intensifying our efforts to fight gangs, and why we work so hard on economic development and youth programming. We are taking immediate action on this long-term problem, and we will continue to do so.

The shooters will face justice. And I pray for a speedy recovery for the victims.

Director Rallings and I discussed Sunday’s incident this morning, and he and the MPD team are reviewing how to proceed going forward to ensure safety.”

“The concern is safety. My wife and I, we do go to the park, we do enjoy the river, and when you see something like that it does plant a seed to be concerned, always be cautious,” said Candebat

A Shelby County Sheriff's spokesperson said they haven't been asked yet to potentially assist with patrols, although deputies do chip in during Memphis in May festivities.

Crime mapping within 2/10th of a mile of Sunday’s shooting show reported incidents down in recent months.
MPD showed 18 reported crimes from January through March, including seven vandalism cases,  six thefts from motor vehicles, and one carjacking.

That’s compared to October through December, where citizens reported 35 crimes, including 11 thefts from motor vehicles, eight vandalism cases, and two robberies.
Memphis police are still looking for others involved in Sunday night’s shooting. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.


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