MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tuesday, those across the Mid-South, from pastors to police leaders, mourned the unexpected shooting death of Rev. Dr. Autura Eason-Williams, a faith leader who leaves behind a lengthy legacy.
Memphis Police said Rev. Eason-Williams - a district superintendent in the United Methodist Church's Metro Council - died after being shot during a carjacking Monday afternoon outside her Whitehaven home.
The crime also served as a stark reminder of the rise in carjackings across Memphis, requiring special patrols from police and increased vigilance from the public.
"The family is just in shock. It's just unimaginable right now what the family is going through," Rep. Karen Camper said, who is in Rev. Eason-Williams' extended family.
Whether it's her extended family or Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis, it's clear Tuesday the shooting death of Rev. Eason-Williams struck a chord of both anger and sadness.
"This adverse and terrible situation has really prompted us all to a call to action," Chief Davis said.
"We do need to work together to end this senseless violence that's happening in our community way too much," Rep. Camper added.
With other carjackings making headlines across the Bluff City in recent days, including in Cooper-Young last week, Chief Davis isn't sugarcoating her message to the public.
"This problem is so pervasive that we need our community members to be more proactive, more preventative and alert. When you are traveling about to and from, make sure you are paying attention around you, make you are reporting suspicious behavior to the Memphis Police Department as well," said Chief Davis, whose department is also attacking the carjacking issue beyond regular patrols.
"It requires individuals who are assigned to specific units that actually target, look for, identify individuals in stolen vehicles - because many of the crimes are being committed with stolen vehicles," Chief Davis said.
Memphis Police Tuesday afternoon said they have juveniles in custody as persons of interest in connection to Rev. Eason-Williams shooting death, but no confirmed arrests.
Police and her family are asking anyone with information about the crime to call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.