A 19-year-old suspect was arrested Wednesday in a series of shootings that left four people dead and three others wounded at multiple crime scenes in Memphis, Tennessee, police said.
Apparently at least one of the shootings was broadcast on Facebook Live, ultimately leading to Ezekiel Kelly’s arrest as a suspect in the shootings following a high-speed chase, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said. during a press conference on Thursday morning.
The shootings began before 1 a.m. Wednesday and continued late into the night, prompting a stay-at-home order in one part of the city as police searched for the shooter.
“Our citizens in Memphis and Shelby County were going about their business… leaving work, picking up the kids from day care, going about their ordinary lives, when suddenly it all fell apart,” the county sheriff said. Shelby, Floyd Bonner. “Many families will never get over the horrific violence that we saw, that an individual inflicted on the city tonight.”
How the events unfolded
The first shooting was reported around 12:56 a.m. in the 3100 block of Lyndale Avenue. Responding officers found a male victim in a doorway and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Davis said.
“The homicide suspect was known as Zeek Huncho. He was later identified as Ezekiel Kelly,” Davis said at the news conference.
At 4:38 p.m., officers responded to another shooting in the 900 block of South Parkway East, where they found a man in his vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Video surveillance from a nearby business captured the gunman pulling up next to the victim in a gray sedan and firing multiple shots before driving away, Davis said.
Minutes later, at 4:40 pm, officers responded to a shooting on Norris Road and I-240 and found a woman with a gunshot wound to the leg. She was taken to a hospital in non-critical condition. The suspect fled in a dark-colored sedan, Davis said.
More than an hour later, at 5:59 pm, officers responded to a shooting at a store in the 4000 block of Jackson Avenue. “Ezekiel Kelly was on Facebook Live when he opened fire inside the store,” Davis said.
Responding officers found a man with a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
A short time later, at 6:12 p.m., police received a call from a concerned citizen that someone by the name “Zeek Huncho” was going live on Facebook saying he was “threatening to cause harm to citizens,” Davis said. .
The Memphis Police Department then launched a citywide search for an “armed and dangerous” suspect, asking some residents to stay home.
Another shooting was reported at 7:23 p.m. in the area of Poplar Avenue and North Evergreen, where a woman was shot and killed. The attacker fled the scene with the victim’s vehicle, a gray pickup truck, Davis said.
A minute later, officers responded to another shooting on Poplar Avenue and found a man who had been shot. He was taken to a hospital in non-critical condition, Davis said.
Then, at 8:55 p.m., officers responded to the 800 block of West Raines Road, where a woman with gunshot wounds was pronounced dead, according to Davis.
A short time later, at 8:56 pm, the Southaven, Mississippi, police department responded to the area of Stateline Road and Highway 51 regarding a carjacking, Davis said. Police said Kelly robbed a victim at gunpoint, taking a gray Dodge Challenger, leaving the gray pickup truck behind. The victim was uninjured. Southhaven is across the state line from Memphis.
Two minutes later, at 8:58 p.m., the Challenger was spotted by Memphis police on I-55 and a high-speed chase ensued.
The chase came to an end and Kelly was taken into custody without incident.
The chief said two guns were seen in the vehicle when Kelly was taken into custody. “Numerous felony charges are pending,” he added.
Mayor says violence ‘not acceptable’
The series of shootings interrupted life in the city on Wednesday when the police issued alerts about the search for the suspect. The Memphis Area Transit Authority suspended its bus and streetcar services, citing the danger from an attacker.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland expressed his anger over the wave of violence at a news conference early Thursday as he offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
“I am angry for them, and I am angry for our citizens who had to stay home for their own safety until this suspect was caught. This is not a way of life for us and it is not acceptable,” he said. “The people of our city faced the kind of violence that no one should have to face.”
Strickland said Kelly had previously been charged with deliberate criminal attempted murder but pleaded guilty in April 2021 to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but only served 11 months and was released in March, the mayor said.
“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.
During the news conference, Davis thanked those who alerted police to the Facebook live stream.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said it is working closely with police on the case.
The social media giant said it contacted the department shortly after police made their initial public alerts and has since removed video content that may be related to the incident.