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Drivers say elected officials need to do something to stop the growing number of Memphis highway shootings

Memphis is on track to top last year's total of highway shootings.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis highways have had at least 69 shootings in just the first half of the year or an average of three a week. In all of 2020, the total was 83 shootings. 

It's so bad some drivers, like Latonya Williams, said they try to avoid taking any Memphis interstate or state highway just hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of gunfire. 

"We’re just halfway into the year, how many more left for the rest of the year?" Williams said.

After a weeks-long sting called "Operation Grizzly Bear" in 2019, more than 30 Tennessee Highway troopers were brought to Memphis assist the Shelby County Sheriff's Office and Memphis Police in patrolling the highways. The number of shootings that year capped at 46. 

Drivers want to know what's being done now. 

Local 24 News emailed congressmen, the Tennessee governor, the city and county mayors, and local law enforcement. 

The only response came from SCSO.

"Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office cooperates and works with state and local police agencies in efforts to curb reckless driving violations and shootings on the highways," SCSO said. "This lawlessness is also a community problem and it will take a consolidated effort to stem this violent behavior."

"They’re not doing anything that’s why you didn’t get an answer," Williams said. 

We asked specific questions. 

Why Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is hesitating to add more troopers in Memphis?

How many suspects MPD has caught in relation to these shootings?

If THP will team up with MPD and SCSO again as they have in the past?

Drivers, like Adrienne Martin, are frustrated. 

"It makes me feel like I’m voting for nothing," Martin said. "I would think to vote is to put somebody in office that’s going to get things done." 

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland didn't respond to Local 24 News Tuesday but has said in the past he hopes to get federal funds that can be used to get a permanent presence of highway patrol on the interstates and cameras to help stop the shootings. 

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