Day of terror in Memphis leaves family and friends destitute

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A day of terror that left four dead and three injured in a Tennessee town this week pierced the hearts of those left behind: the grandmother of three children left without parents, the man who lay next to his fallen best his friend and refused to leave, the daughter whose traumatized father is her “whole world”.

Police have so far released few details about the rampage that sent Memphis into lockdown as a gunman roamed the city for hours, opening fire on people and broadcasting some of the attacks on social media.

Police arrested 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly Wednesday night when he turned himself in after a car chase and charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting.

Although several of the victims have been publicly identified by friends and family, police released the name of only the first victim, Dewayne Tunstall, on Friday.

Marcus Cash was at his home just before 1 a.m. Wednesday when he heard gunshots and ran outside to where Tunstall and some of his friends had gathered. Cash and Tunstall were so close they were like brothers, she said. When Cash saw Tunstall’s body, he just laid down next to it.

“I had his blood on me,” Cash said. “They couldn’t get me off the ground.”

After police arrived, they held Cash for hours as a precaution because he was so agitated, she said.

“They said I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be out,” Cash said. “I was emotionally torn.”

When asked what he told the police, he said: “You better catch him before I do.”

Tunstall appeared on a news story on Memphis television station WREG-TV last year after buying gas for a stranger at a local station. Olivia Jennings told a reporter that she was standing in line behind Tunstall when he started joking with him about all the orange juice he was buying. Then he offered to buy her gas.

The small act of kindness touched Jennings so much that she asked to take a photo with Tunstall to post online. He told the station he wanted others to know that while Memphis gets a bad rap, there are good people all over the city.

“The young man is about the same age as my son,” Jennings said. “I’d just like to know if it did any good, people would at least say something. You know, ‘You’re a good kid.'”

Also killed Wednesday was Alison Parker, a mother of three who worked as a doctor at a clinic in nearby West Memphis, Arkansas.

Parker’s mother-in-law, Debbie Holland, said Parker’s children lost their father — her son — a few years ago. Speaking by phone on her way to be with her grandchildren Thursday, she said the killer “not only took a life,” but left the children without parents.

“She was beautiful, smart, kind-hearted, giving — she would help anyone who asked,” Holland said. “She didn’t deserve to die at the hands of that monster.”

A Facebook post by Dr. Trent Pierce at the Family Practice Center of West Memphis, where Parker worked, said the office was mourning her death.

“Please pray for her family and all of our office staff as we try to cope with this senseless loss,” he wrote.

Rodolfo Berger was shopping at AutoZone when he was shot just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to his daughter.

Police said Kelly live-streamed the shooting on Facebook, speaking briefly into the camera before opening the store’s door and firing what appeared to be a handgun. Police said the injured man was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Jenny Berger identified the victim as her father in a lengthy Facebook post.

“Today my dad was the victim of a senseless act of violence. Heavy shooting in Memphis. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he wrote.

Berger said she was in agony for hours, not knowing what had happened to the man she considers her best friend.

“I love this man so much,” she wrote. “If you know me, you know he’s my world.”

A person who answered the phone at Jenny Berger’s office said she was not giving interviews. She wrote on Facebook that her father is recovering. A family friend set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses.

“I can feel in my heart that he is so STRONG and ready for a journey of healing ahead,” Berger wrote.


Lawler reported from Nashville, Tennessee.

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