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4 dead, 3 wounded in 'senseless murder rampage' across Memphis that forced residents inside

The 19-year-old man arrested in connection with the shooting spree recorded one of the attacks on Facebook Live, police said.

A 19-year-old man was in custody in a series of shootings, including one broadcast on social media, that left four dead, three wounded and the city of Memphis, Tennessee, on edge late Wednesday, police said.

The suspected shooter was identified by police as Ezekiel Dejuan Kelly. He was apprehended around 9:20 p.m., more than two hours after police issued an urgent warning that prompted calls for residents of the city of around 630,000 to stay indoors.

Kelly was charged with first-degree murder early Thursday.

“Many families were shattered tonight,” Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said at a news conference early Thursday.

The identities of the victims have not been released. It was not immediately clear if the suspect knew any of the victims.

Police responded to the first shooting around 1 a.m. Wednesday when a man was found fatally shot in a driveway, police said. The shootings continued around 4:30 p.m.

Memphis police tweeted an urgent alert around 7 p.m. warning that an armed man was responsible for multiple shootings.

“We are getting reports that he is recording his actions on Facebook. We do not have a specific location of where he is now,” the tweet stated.

Officers found the first shooting victim, a male who was deceased, at 12:56 a.m., Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said at an early Thursday news conference.

Around 4:38 p.m., police found a man fatally shot inside a vehicle; two minutes later, officers found a woman who was shot in the leg and wounded; and shortly before 6 p.m. the suspect allegedly entered a store while on Facebook Live and shot and critically wounded a man, she said.

It was then that someone notified police that the suspect was on Facebook threatening to harm people, Davis said, and police launched a citywide search and told people to stay inside.

Two more people were later found killed, Davis said.

A woman was found shot to death around 7:23 p.m. The shooter took her vehicle and fled, and a man was found shot and wounded around that time, Davis said.

At 8:55 p.m., police found another woman who had been fatally shot, she said.

Image:
Memphis Police officers work an active shooter scene on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, Tenn., on Sept. 7, 2022.Mark Weber / AP

The suspect carjacked a person at a gas station in Southaven, Mississippi, which is adjacent to Memphis, just before 9 p.m. and fled in that person's Dodge Challenger, police said. The victim was not injured.

That Challenger was spotted by police minutes later, there was a high-speed chase and Kelly was arrested without incident, Davis said. Two weapons were in the car, she said.

A motive, if one is known, was not clearly spelled out in Thursday's early morning news conference.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland called it a "senseless murder rampage."

Strickland said Kelly was released from prison less than six months ago. He said the suspect had been charged with attempted first-degree murder, pleaded guilty in April 2021 to a lesser charge of aggravated assault, and was sentenced to three years in prison and served 11 months. Court records show Kelly was 17 when the incident occurred.

Online corrections records show a release date of March 16.

"If Mr. Kelly served his full three-year sentence, he would still be in prison today, and four of our fellow citizens would still be alive," Strickland said Thursday morning.

Court records also showed a first-degree murder warrant had been issued for Kelly on Wednesday. Additional details about the case connected to the warrant were not immediately available.

A number for Kelly or anyone associated with him could not be immediately found Wednesday in a search of online public records. It was not clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Facebook parent company Meta said that it removed live video related to the incident, and that it was in contact with Memphis police.

The shootings and uncertainty about the suspect's whereabouts also prompted Memphis' regional transit authority to suspend bus and trolley service due to the danger Wednesday.

There are at least eight crime scenes, Davis said, and police are still investigating. "There could potentially be other locations, there could potentially be other damage in other places," she said.

After the initial killing, police did not know who the killer was, Davis said. Later investigators learned they may be linked, in part by learning that a name on Facebook was associated with him, Davis said.

Wednesday’s shootings occurred two days after the body of a Memphis school teacher, Eliza Fletcher, was found. Fletcher was abducted while out for a run Friday morning near the University of Memphis.

"This has been a horrific week for the city of Memphis," Davis said after Wednesday's shootings.

Timeline of Memphis shooting spree

  • 12:56 a.m.: A male is found dead in a driveway.
  • 4:38 p.m.: A male is found dead in his vehicle of multiple gunshot wounds. Video from a business showed a gray sedan pull up next to the victim before the shooting.
  • 4:40 p.m.: A female is shot in the leg. She is hospitalized in non-critical condition.
  • 5:59 pm.: The suspect shoots inside a store while broadcasting on Facebook Live. A male is hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound.
  • 6:12 p.m.: A person reports to police that the suspect was on Facebook Live and threatening to cause harm.
  • 7 p.m.: Memphis police tweet an alert about a suspect "responsible for multiple shootings."
  • 7:23 p.m.: A woman is found fatally shot. Police say the suspect took the victim's gray SUV and fled.
  • 7:24 p.m. A male is found shot less than half a mile from the prior shooting. He is taken to a hospital in noncritical condition.
  • 7:53 p.m.: The city of Memphis asks residents to stay home if they do not need to be out.
  • 8:55 p.m.: A female is found fatally shot.
  • 8:56 p.m.: Police in Southaven, Mississippi, respond to a carjacking where a Dodge Challenger was taken at gunpoint. The victim is uninjured. The suspect flees and leaves behind the gray SUV, police said.
  • 8:58 p.m.: Officers see the Challenger on Interstate 55 and initiate a high-speed pursuit. Memphis police and Shelby County Sheriff's Office apprehend the suspect.
  • 9:26 p.m.: Police tweet that the suspect is in custody.
  • Source: Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, Memphis Police Department Twitter, city of Memphis Twitter