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Memphis road rage shootings up 57% according to MPD

In the most recent incident, police said a 25-year-old shot at an off duty officer early Wednesday morning on I-240.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While you may be spending a lot of time in your house this year, you may not have noticed the huge increase in the number of reported interstate shootings in Memphis.

Most recently, shots were fired twice on Memphis interstates in less than twelve hours. 

In one of the shootings, the gunman fired at an off-duty Memphis Police officer. He was arrested in Collierville after a police chase. 

25-year-old Trae Payne Is facing aggravated assault, evading arrest, and reckless driving.

According to police records, an off-duty Memphis police officer said he was driving westbound near Poplar on I-240 when Payne pointed a handgun out of a car window and fired a shot at him. When police tried to pull Payne over, they said he began driving in and out of traffic eventually he was caught in Collierville after a chase. 

Credit: Shelby County Jail
Trae Payne

Less than 12 hours before that, there was another shots fired incident. This time on highway 385. Traffic was backed up for hours while police searched for evidence in that case. 

RELATED: Sanford: Mid-South highway shootings are “insane,” but police patrols are “money well spent”

RELATED: THP pairs with MPD, SCSO to increase patrols on Memphis’ highways

According to Memphis police in 2019, they investigated 45 reports of shots fired on Memphis interstates. In 2020, so far there has been 71 - a 57% increase over last year.  

MPD Deputy Chief Samuel Hines said the increase is connected to more people driving around with guns in their cars. Hines said since the law changed several years ago to allow people to carry guns in their cars without a handgun permit, there has been an increase in incidents.

"I think we have a lot of that, so there are guns that are accessible so whenever there is road rage, the first thing the person does is go for the gun. Whereas we used to not have guns as common in cars, so I think that's one of the big factors, " said Deputy Chief Hines.

And Hines said solving interstate shooting cases can be tough. He said of the 71 cases, police have only been able to solve eight of them. 

Most people probably drive around the interstate not expecting to be shot.

Hines said while the shootings are often connected to road rage, sometimes it's more than that.

"Some of these individuals know each other and then just catch up with each other on the interstate - and they are finishing off their beef or their feud with each the on the interstate," said Hines.

Hines said the bottom line, don't engage with a "road rager." And if there is a problem, try to get the car make, model, and plate number and description of the driver.