Sep 8, 2022

Memphis police hold press conference with details on shooting spree Transcript

Memphis police hold press conference with details on shooting spree Transcript
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Four people are dead and three wounded after 19-year old Ezekiel Kelly went on a shooting spree in Memphis, Tennessee. Read the transcript here. 

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Chief CJ Davis: (00:00)
This has been a horrific week for the City of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department. We extend our sincere condolences to all the victims who have been affected in this sequence of violent acts today. We want to express our sincere appreciation to our citizens who provided numerous tips throughout this ordeal. I would also like to thank the officers of the Memphis Police Department and other law enforcement agencies who assisted in their relentless pursuit in the successful arrest of Ezekiel Kelly. On September 7th, 2022, at 12:56 AM, officers responded to a shooting in the 3100 block of Lyndale Avenue. Officers located a male victim in the driveway. The male was pronounced deceased on the scene. The homicide suspect was known as Zeke Honcho. He was later identified as Ezekiel Kelly, 19 years-old.

Chief CJ Davis: (01:05)
At 4:38 PM, officers responded to a shooting in the 900 block of South Parkway East. Officers located a male victim in his vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced deceased on the scene. Video surveillance at the business revealed a Black male pulled up next to the victim in a gray sedan. The suspect fired multiple shots and fled south on College Street.At 4:40 PM, officers responded to a shooting at Norris Road and Interstate 240. Officers located a female victim with a gunshot wound to the leg. The victim was transported to the hospital non-critical. The suspect fled in a dark color sedan eastbound on Norris Road.

Chief CJ Davis: (01:59)
At 5:59, officers responded to a shooting in the 4000 block of Jackson Avenue. Ezekiel Kelly was on Facebook Live when he opened fire inside the store. Officers located a male with a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition. At 6:12 PM, we received information from a concerned citizen that suspect was on Zeke Honcho’s Facebook Live stating that he was threatening to cause harm to citizens. At this time, the Memphis Police Department launched a citywide search for the assailant. We deployed additional manpower and asked for assistance from partner agencies to locate Ezekiel Kelly. We began to utilize our social media platforms to alert citizens and contact our local media agencies to alert our citizens of the impending danger. At that time, we also recommended that they shelter in place.

Chief CJ Davis: (03:01)
At 7:23 PM, officers responded to a shooting at Poplar Avenue and North Evergreen. A female, who had been shot, was located on the scene. The suspect took the victim’s vehicle, a gray SUV, and fled the scene. At 7:24, officers responded to a shooting at Poplar Avenue and North McLean Boulevard. A male victim, who had been shot, was located and transported to the hospital noncritical. At 8:55 PM, officers responded to the 800 block of West Raines regarding a shooting. Officers located one female victim on the scene with gunshot wounds. She was pronounced deceased on the scene. At 8:56, South Haven Police Department responded to the area of State Line Road and Highway 51 regarding a carjacking. The suspect carjacked the victim at gunpoint and took a gray Dodge Challenger, leaving behind the gray SUV that was taken from the Poplar Avenue and North Evergreen location. The victim was uninjured at this scene.

Chief CJ Davis: (04:13)
At 8:58 PM, Memphis Police officers spotted the Dodge Challenger northbound on Interstate 55 from State Line Road. A high speed pursuit began. The pursuit terminated at Hodge Road and Ivan Road. The male driver, identified as Ezekiel Kelly, was taken into custody without incident by the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Two weapons were visible inside the vehicle where Kelly was. The homicide division and other investigative units are actively working these crime scenes now, and numerous felony charges are pending. We will consult with our district attorney’s office and DA Steve Mulroy and release all charges after Kelly is officially charged and transported to 201 Poplar Avenue.

Chief CJ Davis: (05:07)
At this time, we will have comments from Mayor Jim Strickland.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (05:12)

Chief CJ Davis: (05:13)
I’m sorry, from our sheriff, Sheriff Floyd Bonner.

Sheriff Floyd Bonner: (05:22)
Thank you, Chief, and good morning. Yes, good morning to all. Once again, our community has been faced with another senseless, senseless act of violence. Our citizens, in Memphis and Shelby County, we’re going about their business. Ordinary citizens doing ordinary things; getting off from work, picking up children from daycare, just going about their ordinary lives when it was, all of a sudden, shattered. Many families were shattered tonight. Many families will never, never, ever get over the horrific violence that we saw that one individual inflicted on this city tonight. So my condolences is to the families. We want to thank all of our law enforcement partners. Once again, with the spirit of cooperation that we experienced here, like none other in this city. And I want to assure the public that we’re all going to be working together to try to curb this senseless violence here in Memphis and Shelby County. With that being said, I’d like to turn it over to our acting assistant special agent in charge, Ali Roberts.

Ali Roberts: (06:41)
Good morning. On behalf of ATF, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends affected by this senseless and terrible acts of violence. ATF will continue to use all our available resources and expertise to assist the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, as well as our other state and local partners to bring the family, friends, some sense of justice. I’d like to turn it over to Mayor Strickland at this point.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (07:23)
I want to first express my deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families who are suffering from this senseless murder rampage. I am angry. I am angry for them, and I’m angry for our citizens, who had to shelter in place for their own safety until this suspect was caught. This is no way for us to live.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (08:03)
…is no way for us to live. And it is not acceptable. The people of our city were confronted with the type of violence no one should have to face. Ezekiel Kelly was charged with criminal attempted first degree murder, but pled guilty in April of 2021 to the lesser charge of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to three years, but only served 11 months in prison and was released on March 16 2022, less than six months ago.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (09:06)
These evil actions show why truth in sentencing is a must and we should do all we can to make our city safe. We should not be terrorized by anyone, anyone who wants to strike fear in our hearts and take away what we love about Memphis. We must unite around this principle and stand up to the challenge of violent crime in our city. 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.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (10:11)
Thank you to the state legislature, led by Speaker Sexton and Lieutenant Governor McNally, for passing truth in sentencing. From now on, three years for aggravated assault means three years. Our judicial system is too often a revolving door. A citizen emailed me today and she said, quote, “Unless there are real consequences for criminal behavior, it will continue.” I agree 100%. We need our courts, we need additional state laws to stop this revolving door. And I need the public to make your voices heard by those decision makers.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (11:14)
I want to thank the men and women of the Memphis Police Department and all supporting law enforcement agencies who supported in capturing the suspect tonight and of course aided in the search for Eliza Fletcher earlier this week. This has been a painful week in our city, but I have hope for Memphis. I have love for Memphis. And I know that united we will endure. Thank you. And I’ll now bring up Steve Mulroy, our District Attorney General.

Steven Mulroy: (12:02)
Thank you, Mr. Strickland. And good morning everyone. This has been a horrific week from Memphis and Shelby County. People are frightened, people are angry. In times like this, it’s sometimes hard for people to know what to do. I can tell you one thing that I’m going to do, I’m going to pray. I’m going to pray for the victims and their families. I’m also going to say a prayer of thanks for law enforcement who acted superbly both today and all week long.

Steven Mulroy: (12:43)
I was privileged to be in the command center this evening and watched as law enforcement calmly and coolly, but nonetheless with urgency, did what they had to do to follow the leads and apprehend this person, and prevent further bloodshed. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. And I think I was reassured again, that we have competent law enforcement that can do everything they can in their power to keep us safe.

Steven Mulroy: (13:13)
The other thing I would recommend that we do is, if we know somebody, a friend or a loved one who is seemingly experiencing emotional distress, maybe on the verge of snapping, particularly if they’re armed, reach out to them. Show them that you care. And if appropriate, contact law enforcement.

Steven Mulroy: (13:36)
As for our office, as I have said before and I’ll say again, it’s our policy that repeat violent offenders deserve a strong response. And that’s precisely what they’ll get from this DA office. We will be working closely with law enforcement, as we have been and will continue to do so, to bring appropriate charges at the appropriate time, to make sure that justice is done in this case.

Steven Mulroy: (14:08)
But I’m also confident that if we unite, and I think we will, law enforcement, the different aspects of government, and all of us as a community, if we come together we will find the strength to stem this tide of violence, this flood of violence, and make our community safe. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (14:30)
Chief Davis, the shooting at 7:23 at Popular and Evergreen, was that a fatal?

Chief CJ Davis: (14:40)
Yes, it was.

Speaker 1: (14:40)
So four dead, three wounded, total?

Chief CJ Davis: (14:43)
That’s correct.

Speaker 1: (14:44)
Okay. And eight crime scenes that we know of?

Chief CJ Davis: (14:48)
I’m not sure.

Speaker 1: (14:49)
But there’s a carjacking [inaudible 00:14:51].

Chief CJ Davis: (14:51)
It’s at least eight.

Speaker 1: (14:52)
At least eight?

Chief CJ Davis: (14:53)
We are still in the throes of the investigation. There could potentially be other locations. There could potentially be other damage in other places. So we’ll have more information, we’ll continue to update you.

Speaker 1: (15:05)
Thank you.

Speaker 2: (15:07)
You mentioned 12:56 as the first scene, 12:56 PM?

Chief CJ Davis: (15:11)
12:56 AM, last night.

Speaker 2: (15:15)
Last night, okay. I was just verifying.

Chief CJ Davis: (15:16)
This was the initial homicide that this individual was responsible for. At that time, we didn’t know exactly who that individual was. But more information as the date went on, we were able to identify the suspect.

Speaker 2: (15:31)
A lot of people are hurting.

News Anchor: (15:35)
All right. Our signal has frozen there for a moment, but we’ve gotten so much information here from Police Chief C.J. Davis. As we try to reestablish contact there from City Hall at the Hall of Mayors, we learned that this was a much more extensive crime wave than we had thought. The shooting rampage encompassing eight victims altogether, four of them killed. The shooting spree actually starting at 12:56, almost exactly 24 hours ago.

News Anchor: (16:03)
At 12:56, almost exactly 24 hours ago, on Wednesday morning, a shooting that was of a deceased person there. A man was deceased. We don’t have any names yet. At 4:38 pm, another shooting where someone was deceased. And then, on and on it went. Sometimes, just two minutes separating shootings. Sometimes longer than that. Rudy, let me bring you in on this because I know you’re watching this, too, as we try to reestablish contact for the news conference that’s underway there.

News Anchor: (16:28)
I’m just struck by, as we lay this all out, and we’ll hopefully get a graphic together so people can actually see the times and what happened. But the crime spree went on and on and on until eventually is Ezekiel Kelly was captured at around nine o’clock tonight. This after the city had to be put on basically a stay at home orders. It has been an amazing effect that this one individual had, and this police department had its hands full today keeping up with it all. I guess we’ve got reestablished contact. Let’s go back real quick.

Chief CJ Davis: (17:05)
…get them the help that they need, or take them through the judicial process and prosecute them for the crimes that they’re committing. We need the community’s help.

Speaker 3: (17:15)
Chief, four dead, three wounded in at least eight locations, as you mentioned. We also had an officer shot last week. We had multiple reported kidnappings. Just talk about the strain that this has placed on public servants across the city and just how unusual it’s been.

Chief CJ Davis: (17:30)
It is certainly an anomaly for us to experience so much in such a short period of time. Our officers have exhibited unbelievable resilience in the last several weeks. They’ve been shot at. You may know about one time, but they’ve been shot at several times. They continue to come to work. They continue to do the work because they know that the community depends on them. We saw that tonight. We’re grateful that this incident didn’t last longer than what it did. It lasted too long for all of us. But because of the response, and their willingness to continue to do this work, we just have to continue to motivate them, get them the support that they need, and get the community to help us. And that’s what this plea is tonight.

Speaker 4: (18:26)
[inaudible 00:18:26] a fifteen year old with a previous crime [inaudible 00:18:34].

Chief CJ Davis: (18:38)

Speaker 4: (18:38)
As far as, dealing with [inaudible 00:18:41] rights, where are you going to start with that?

Chief CJ Davis: (18:44)
Well, I think that we all need to take responsibility for our specific roles in the criminal justice system. We all have a responsibility and should be held accountable for what the community expects us to do. We are the response arm for various crimes. But all too often, our officers are responding to the same individuals committing violent acts. They are frustrated, and we are frustrated. The community is frustrated. We want it to stop, and the only way we’re going to make it stop is if we approach this from a holistic standpoint. Every element of the criminal justice system has to be working together at the same time.

Speaker 5: (19:34)
Or the ATF? Or the ATF? How did Kelly get the gun?

Ali Roberts: (19:34)
Well, we’re still at the beginning of stages of investigation, and I’m not going to say anything that’s going to compromise this investigation. It’s still fresh.

Speaker 5: (19:42)
Legally or illegally? Do you know?

Ali Roberts: (19:43)
I’m not going to speak on that right now.

Speaker 6: (19:45)
Chief, can you walk us through how you learned that it was Kelly? Was it a social media post? And also, Mayor, can you just speak to the challenge of keeping Chief Davis’ spirits up and encouraging people [inaudible 00:19:59] despite all of these violent events?

Chief CJ Davis: (20:06)
Well, I’ll speak first. And there were several tidbits of information. And I think it was just the investigators realizing that this Facebook name was associated with Mr. Kelly. This Zeke Macho, I believe it was, or Macho Zeke. And we realized that this was probably the same individual, and we began to really look into the original homicide case and the information that we had and put two and two together as related to his identity.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (20:44)
Despite our long term challenge with violent crime, there are real bright spots in Memphis. For the first time in decades, our population grew over the last 10 years. For the first time in decades. We had more Memphians employed a couple months ago than the history of the city. You see all the building and constructions and more jobs coming from St. Jude and Blue Oval City. So, there are bright spots. But I need the public to engage. I welcome being held primarily responsible for lowering violent crime. But I do not have the authority over bonds, over state sentencing laws, over rehabilitation of people in prison. I need the public to hold other people accountable.

Mayor Jim Strickland: (21:36)
Because I’m tired of our police officers arresting the same people over and over and over, and those people committing violent acts. I think the public’s fed up with it too. But they need to let their voice be heard to these other institutions that play a role. Call your state legislature. Stay engaged with our judicial system and these judges who pass out these slap of the wrist sentences. And 201 Poplar is a revolving door. Juvenile court is a revolving door on steroids. No one is held accountable there. And with our school’s truancy, the kids aren’t being held accountable, the parents aren’t being held accountable. I want the public to hold all of us accountable, me included, but all these other entities. And I’d ask the media to ask those people, “What are you doing about this violent crime?” The problem is not the Memphis Police Department because they’re arresting people. The problem is this judicial system that will not punish. That is our problem.

Speaker 7: (22:53)
Steve Mulroy? Steve Mulroy, if you could expand upon what you plan to do by getting tough, as you say, on crime. You’re going to pray. How do we get tough? You’re taking office, replacing someone who supporters of you say didn’t do the job. How are you going to do the job?

Steven Mulroy: (23:12)
Well, I don’t want to get into a protracted policy debate tonight. I think tonight is a night for grieving and coming together and expressing concern about this horrific week that we’ve had. I can say, in general, what I’ve been saying all along that repeat violent offenders require a tough response, and that will mean long prison sentences, right? But at the same time, Chief Davis talked about a holistic approach. Rehabilitation has got to be part of it because, in most of these cases, people will eventually come out of prison. Most crimes don’t trigger life sentences, and they’re either going to come out having been rehabilitated and have been given the skills that they need to have an alternative to life-

Steven Mulroy: (24:03)
… and have been given the skills that they need to have an alternative to life on the street, or they won’t, and then they’ll have no choice. They won’t have a choice, they’ll have a choice, but what they’ll tend to do is to return to the only life they know, which is life on the street. And unfortunately, I think we’ve been doing a lot of the latter, and we need to be doing more of the former.

Speaker 7: (24:21)
We’ve got to get these kids young, which means…

Steven Mulroy: (24:24)
Early intervention for youth.

Speaker 7: (24:25)
As you pointed out in your newsletter last Friday, truancy is a big issue. Truancy is not being handled very well, according to your newsletter, [inaudible 00:24:34] the lack of a relationship between the DA’s office and the largest school system in the state. How are we going to change this?

Steven Mulroy: (24:44)
Well, I mean, I’m going to have a dialogue with the school system. We need to establish a better relationship between the DA’s office and the school system. I think there are cooperative things we can do. I don’t know that necessarily locking up the parents or taking away their benefits, which I’ve heard some people mention, is going to be necessarily the most constructive approach, but I think a relationship between the DA’s office and the school system is something that I would like to reestablish.

Speaker 7: (25:11)
Okay. One final question. Mental health, it’s a huge issue, has been during the pandemic, now that we’re out of it, who do people call? If you suspect your loved one is struggling, you suspect they’re dangerous, who do they call? Who do they reach out to? What number do they dial? How do we help the community help [inaudible 00:25:30]?

Steven Mulroy: (25:29)
Are you going to do that?

Chief CJ Davis: (25:29)
Well, there’s several entities here in the city, Alliance Healthcare is one, MMHI. There are several different… Did you?

Steven Mulroy: (25:40)
No, no, go ahead.

Chief CJ Davis: (25:41)
And we really do depend on Alliance Healthcare and MMHI. It’s important that when we see individuals that are suffering from obvious mental illness, instead of waiting for something to happen, something tragic like would happened tonight happen, we need to act. Because as I said before, the police department is the response end, and unfortunately, our officers are getting exhausted. They’re getting angry, too. And it gets more and more difficult for them to come to work every day and be shot at, and to still have a spirit of altruism in the work that we do, and at the same time take care of our community. But they are relentless, and we’re not going to give up on Memphis. We are not going to give up on Memphis, we are going to be here, and we are going to work with anybody that’s willing to work with us to move the needle in another direction.

Speaker 7: (26:39)
How are you taking care of your officer’s mental health?

Chief CJ Davis: (26:41)
Well, funny you ask. We do have a peer support program. We have all kinds of technology that helps our officers to reach out through an app that we have developed in the police department. We have various types of help organizations that they can reach out to anonymously. We have various training for them as well, conflict management and all kinds of deescalation training, crisis intervention. I’m a very big proponent of officer health and wellness, and we have a very robust program in the Memphis Police Department. In a climate like this, we need it.

Speaker 7: (27:23)
Thank you.

Chief CJ Davis: (27:24)
Thank you.

Speaker 7: (27:25)
[inaudible 00:27:25].

Steven Mulroy: (27:25)
Thank you.

News Anchor: (27:25)
Okay, so the news conference is winding up at the Hall of Mayors there at Memphis City Hall. Struck by a number of comments made by Chief Davis there, and also Mayor Strickland showing some very strong language tonight, talking about how he is angry, that this is no way for Memphians to live. It’s unacceptable, and then points out the sentence that the suspect tonight, Ezekiel Kelly, should have served but was let out early. He should have served a three year sentence for aggravated assault, which by the way was a plea deal down from an attempted first degree murder charge, instead served just 11 months, pointing out that by his release in March of this year, 2022, he would’ve still been behind bars had he not won that early release. I think we’re getting an idea, Rudy, of the tone of the conversation that we’re going to be having over the next several days, especially now that we see the extent of this crime spree, seven people shot, four of them killed, over eight different crime scenes today.

Rudy Williams: (28:22)
Yeah, Richard, I think the question that we should have heard in that news conference is why was Ezekiel Kelly released from jail so early? And why was he out on the streets to commit the crimes that he committed today? Four people dead, three people injured, seven people total, eight different crime scenes across the city. We saw contrasting views between our new District Attorney and our Mayor in how this should happen. Strickland, punishment, Mullroy talked about circumstances around the criminal activity of this one person, or people in general, and the need for rehabilitation programs. So it begs the question, once again, why was Ezekiel Kelly released from jail so early? You’re looking at video right now of Ezekiel Kelly, 19 years old, released just earlier this year, March 16th, 2022, for other crimes, and will be going before a judge, once again, based upon his actions of today.

News Anchor: (29:25)
Well, we have so many of our crew here at ABC 24 looking into this. There are so many different angles to this story that we’re going to be exploring and have already started that process, as a matter of fact. We will be doing that. We will be sharing concerns and prayers, honestly, for the families of those seven victims. What a night they are having, in a city that has been plagued with violence, way too much of it lately, and we’re aware of that too, trust us. And we’ll be right there with you through thick and thin as we try to deal with this city’s agonizing crime problem. For Rudy Williams, I’m Richard Ransom. We’ll go back to regular programming now. Thanks for joining us, everyone.

Rudy Williams: (29:59)

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