6 injured in recent road rage shootings, Memphis roadway shooting numbers projected to surpass 2019

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thursday was a violent night on Memphis roadways. A shooting at 385 and I-240 injured four people and two others were injured in a shooting at Poplar and Ridgeway.

Marcus Lawrence was leaving work Thursday night. While driving on Ridgeway toward Poplar Avenue in East Memphis, a regular evening turned into something else.

“I think I was about to change the radio station and the next thing I heard was boom, boom boom boom boom,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence found himself in the middle of a shooting while stopped at the light at Ridgeway and Poplar. He said an ambulance was also at the light.

“[The next thing I saw was] one of the paramedics getting out of the ambulance and ran over to me and asked if I was okay,” Lawrence said. “I was just in total shock and I told him I think I am.”

Lawrence’s car had been hit by bullets. He said cars sped off and one of them hit the ambulance. He continued to hear gunshots in the distance.

“We heard probably over 30 or 40 gunshots,” Lawrence said.

Memphis Police said two people were injured in the shooting.

Just a few hours before it, a shooting on 385 near I-240 shut down the roadway and sent three people to the hospital including two children. According to a police report, one child was sent to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in critical condition with gunshots in both her legs. A child and adult went to the hospital with non-critical injuries. A fourth person was treated on the scene.

Memphis Police said even during a pandemic, when fewer people may be on the roads, interstate shootings are on track to be more than last year. According to Memphis Police, in 2018 there were 23 shootings on Memphis interstates and highways. There were 45 in 2019 and already this year there have been 23.

While not an interstate, the intersection at Poplar and Ridgeway sees thousands of drivers a day. Lawrence knows he’s lucky to walk away from this unharmed.

“It was a blessing for the ambulance to be right beside me,” Lawrence said.

Memphis Police believe guns are more readily available to people, after gun laws were loosened in the state, which they said correlates to the number of shootings on roadways.

While a strong advocate for the Second Amendment, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings opposes Governor Bill Lee’s proposal for Tennessee to become a permitless carry state. Rallings was at the Statehouse Tuesday to speak against it. As part of his speech, Memphis police said, he mentioned the number of roadway shootings in Memphis.

Still, the permitless carry plan passed a House committee this week.

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