(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — A young man who went on an hourslong shooting rampage around Memphis, Tennessee, gunning down at least four people, was arrested on Wednesday night, police said.
Ezekiel Dejuan Kelly, 19, was taken into custody without incident in the Memphis neighborhood of Whitehaven at around 9 p.m. local time after a high-speed chase, according to Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis.
The deadly rampage began early Wednesday at 12:56 a.m. and continued to about 8:30 p.m. In total, at least four people were killed and three others were wounded in seven shootings across the city, Davis said.
After the shootings, the suspect carjacked a driver at gunpoint Southaven, Mississippi, just south of Memphis, speeding off in the victim’s Dodge Challenger and leaving behind an SUV stolen from a woman he had shot to death earlier that night, according to the police chief. The carjacking victim was uninjured, Davis said.
“The homicide division and other investigative units are actively working these crime scenes now, and numerous felony charges are pending,” Davis told reporters at a press conference early Thursday.
“It’s at least eight [crime scenes],” he added. ” We are still in the throes of the investigation. There could potentially be other locations. There could potentially be other damage in other places.”
Court records obtained by Memphis ABC affiliate WATN-TV indicate that an arrest warrant on the charge of first-degree murder was issued for Kelly on Wednesday, before the shooting spree happened.
The police chief said Kelly recorded at least some of his actions on Facebook Live, including when he opened fire inside a store on Jackson Avenue just before 6 p.m. A spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, told ABC News that the content was identified and removed prior to the Memphis Police Department’s initial public alert about the incident. Meta was also “in direct touch with the Memphis Police Department shortly after they issued their initial public alert,” the spokesperson said.
Police had launched a citywide search for the suspect and advised members of the public to shelter in place, according to Davis.
“We extend our sincere condolences to all the victims who have been affected in this sequence of violent acts today,” the police chief said. “We want to express our sincere appreciation to our citizens who provided numerous tips throughout this ordeal.”
As the gunman terrorized the city, the Memphis Area Transit Authority temporarily suspended trolley and bus services out of “an abundance of caution and care for the safety of its drivers and riders.”
Police did not discuss a possible motive or release the identities of the victims. It was also unclear how the suspect obtained the guns.
The rampage was the latest in a string of violence to hit Memphis in recent days and weeks, including the killing of a woman who was abducted last Friday while she was on a pre-dawn jog.
“This has been a horrific week for the city of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department,” Davis told reporters.
Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner added: “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.”
In February 2020, Kelly, who was 17 at the time, was charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, using a firearm to commit a dangerous felony and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced in April 2021 to three years behind bars. He was released from prison 11 months later, in March, according to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
“I want to I want to first express my deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families who are suffering from this senseless murder rampage,” Strickland told reporters. “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 and it is not acceptable.”
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