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'This should be a time to support right now': State, community leaders react to Memphis shooting spree

According to police, Ezekiel Kelly was arrested Wednesday evening after he shot several people.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — State and community leaders issued statements after a man who shot multiple people across Memphis was arrested Wednesday night.

According to the Memphis Police Department, Ezekiel Kelly, 19, was arrested near Ivan and Hodge roads after he shot several people Wednesday evening. Kelly was seen on social media broadcasting his actions. 

According to police, four people died and three were injured across eight crime scenes in Memphis.

During the investigation, police learned he shot a woman and stole her gray Toyota SUV. Police also learned he had stolen another car in which they had eventually begun chasing before he crashed near Ivan and Hodge roads.

Court records show a warrant was out for Kelly's arrest for first-degree murder before the shooting spree happened.

Below are their statements:

Sen. Bill Hagerty

"My team and I are monitoring the situation in Memphis closely and urge those in the area to follow direction from @MEM_PoliceDept and other local officials. We are praying for Memphis and all those affected tonight."

Rep. Torrey Harris

"Memphis, while Ezekiel Kelly has been arrested, the tragedy of the victims, Memphis residents, law enforcement establishments and businesses that were directly or indirectly affected will have a lasting impact from today's events. Please be respectful of those who lost loved ones or were hurt and if you know of anyone please band together and uplift as a city. ... this is code for, don't let anyone trap you into talking negatively about Memphis or being apart of the 'let's slam Memphis today' train... this should be a time to support right now, we have lost lives."

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland

"I want to first, express my deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families who are suffering from this senseless murder rampage.  I’m angry for them, and I’m angry that our citizens had to shelter in place for their own safety until the suspect was caught.  This is no way for us to live and it is not acceptable.

The people of our city were confronted with the type of violence no one should have to face.  Ezekiel Kelly was charged with criminal attempted first degree murder but pled guilty in April of 2021 to the lesser charge of aggravated assault.  He was sentenced to 3 years, but only served 11 months and was released on March 16, 2022 – less than 6 months ago.

These evil actions show why truth in sentencing is a must, and we should do all we can to make our city safe.  We should not be terrorized by anyone who wants to strike fear in our hearts and take away what we love about Memphis.  We must unite around this principle and stand up to the challenge of violent crime in our city. 

If Mr. Kelly served his full 3-year sentence, he would still be in prison today and 4 of our fellow citizens would still be alive.

Thank you state legislature, led by speaker Sexton and Lt. Gov. McNally, for passing truth in sentencing. From now on, 3 years for Aggravated Assault means 3 years.

Our judicial system is too often a revolving door.  A citizen emailed me today - “until/unless there are real consequences for criminal behavior, it will continue.

I agree 100%.  We need the courts and additional state laws to stop this revolving door and I need the public to make their voices heard by those decision makers.

I want to thank the Men and Women of our Memphis Police Department, and all the supporting law enforcement agencies who supported in capturing the suspect tonight, and aided in the search for Liza Fletcher earlier this week.

This has been a painful week in our city, but I have hope for Memphis, I have love for Memphis, I know that united …..we will endure."

Sen. 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."

Councilman Chase Carlisle

"I'm praying for everyone affected by tonight's senseless violence," Carlisle said. "I'm praying for Memphis. I understand it feels like so much violence and so much evil to experience in such a short time. We are SO much more than this. I've seen many post on social of people saying "they're out" or "packing my bags". I'll never tell anyone how to feel. But I want you to stay. I want you to stay and I want you to fight. Fight for the Memphis you believe in. The Memphis we want to be. I will be up there with you. I love my city. I won't give up on it and I hope you won't either. Thank you MPD again for their heroic work and willingness to put themselves in harm's way for us. As leaders, we must and will do more."

Sen. Marsha Blackburn

"My team and I are aware of the situation unfolding across Memphis. Please stay vigilant and follow the guidance of local officials and @MEM_PoliceDept. We are praying for all those impacted." 

Sen. 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!"

She sent out this statement Thursday morning:

"The book of Psalms says “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.”

This morning, our families in Memphis are crying out for accountability and justice. We are hoping that, together, we can summon the courage to take real action against gun violence.

No community should have to live with the trauma of mass shootings and terrorism. But this isn’t the first senseless tragedy and it won’t be the last if we are unwilling to turn our prayers into action.

I have consistently fought for evidence-based reforms that prevent violent crime. We will continue our work to expand access to mental healthcare. And our mission to end generational poverty never ceases.

But our work is being crippled by policies that make it easier for dangerous people to access deadly weapons. I am a gun owner, but I understand the right to carry must come with meaningful rules and responsibilities.

Again, I am asking anyone at the Capitol who will listen: Please acknowledge the deadly consequences of guns falling into the wrong hands and work with me to end gun violence against our families.

Rep. 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.”

See the Congressman’s letter to the Attorney General here.

MSCS Interim Superintendent Toni Williams

As a life-long Memphian, I love our city -- but I equally recognize the increased concerns many have following tonight's events. Therefore, we will have heightened awareness at our schools tomorrow to give all families an added feeling of safety and security.

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite

"Memphis suspect is in custody.  Our Southaven Police successfully pursued him out of our city in cooperation with Memphis with detainment in Memphis on Shelby Drive.  I’m proud of our team and will communicate with all that this behavior will not be accepted in Southaven.  We are ready for this fight."

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."

Memphis City Council member Teri Dockey

The office of Councilwoman Teri Dockery wants to send the deepest condolences to the families and friends of all victims who have been affected by the senseless acts of violence that have recently transpired in the City of Memphis. We want to let the families know that you all have our deepest sympathy and our hearts are truly saddened.

Councilwoman Dockery states, “I would like to extend myself, not only as a Councilwoman for District 4, but also as a committed and passionate Memphian. I am available to provide any assistance as we unite to pick up the pieces in encouraging and uplifting each other during this period of bereavement.”

Please feel free to reach out to Councilwoman Dockery’s Executive Assistant, Ivy Johnson directly by email at ivy.johnson@memphistn.gov or by phone at (901) 636-6743 to discuss any possible solutions to the problems we are facing or how we may help service any one affected.

We will continue to keep the you all uplifted in love and prayer during these tumultuous times.

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/.

Memphis City Council

On September 7th, the people of the City of Memphis experienced a great tragedy—a tragedy that left many of us in fear for our lives and the lives of those we hold dear. We are deeply saddened by the lives that were lost to a senseless act of violence, and express our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones that are left behind. We, the Memphis City Council, are dedicated to ensuring that Memphis is a better place, a safer place, for all of us to live freely and peacefully with one another. As leaders, we know there is more work to be done, and we will continue to work diligently on behalf of all Memphians to keep our communities safe.

Though this night will always be remembered as one of terror and violence, it does not define the City of Memphis. Our city, our home, is one of great strength. In any challenge we face, we always overcome together. We mourn with those who are mourning, and we stand with those who are committed to doing what it takes to make Memphis the great place we always knew it could be.


This story will be updated as more information is released.

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