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Violent 24 hours leaves three people dead in Memphis

City’s violence intervention program speaks on long-term solution
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:13 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - From Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, the blue lights didn’t seem to cut off in the Bluff City.

Starting at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Memphis police responded to a call of shots fired on Kansas Street in South Memphis. The victim, an 18-year-old male, was taken to Regional One Health Medical Center (ROH) but later died from his injuries.

A 16-year-old male was arrested in connection to the shooting and later charged with second-degree murder.

Later that evening, around 10:30 p.m., two women were taken to ROH after a shooting took place on Kirby Parkway. One died from her injuries, while the other was in non-critical condition. There have been no arrests in this investigation.

At 3:30 a.m., two more, a man and a woman, were taken to ROH after a shooting at the intersection of Lakeview and Craft in Whitehaven. The man died of his wounds and the woman was in non-critical condition. No arrests have been made, but police say the suspect(s) reportedly drove a silver car.

Finally, just after noon on Wednesday, one person was taken to ROH in critical condition, and no suspects have been named in the investigation.

In total, three are dead with another three injured, all from gun violence.

“You’ll see some things start to decline, but then there will be an uptick again. It’s just a constant up and down,” said “Joy Touliatos, director of Memphis’s Group Violence Intervention Program.

Touliatos and the fairly new violence prevention program recently achieved its goal of training 25 intervention specialists to be dispersed throughout the city and work on preventing violent incidents from occurring.

“It’s mostly people that are from those communities,” Touliatos said. “Some of them might be ex-gang members, people that are familiar with what’s going on out in the community, and they’re able to gather some information and prevent any type of further retaliation or any other incidents from occurring.”

Touliatos said she’s working on contracting with area hospitals like ROH and Methodist Le Bonheur.

“So when somebody comes in, we have intervention workers there around the clock to get information as quickly as possible,” Touliatos said.

Along with city efforts, members of the faith community are strategizing their approach to the rising violent crime in the city.

As we mentioned, one of these recent shootings was in Whitehaven.

Monday, the group Concerned Pastors of Whitehaven spoke out against the violence they’ve seen in their neighborhood.

“We have to go to them,” said Tyrone Hunt, senior pastor at Cathedral Christian Church. “We can no longer stay in our churches and expect them to just come. We’ve got to get beyond the walls of the church, reach out to the loins of the community, and put our hands on children.”

Touliatos acknowledged her team of 25 specialists isn’t a quick fix to the growing violent crime problem in Memphis.

“It’s a long-term approach to reducing violence in our city, but it’s something we’re working toward every day.”

She looks to grow her team, hopefully using funds from the American Rescue Plan, and hopes to see results that have been seen in other cities using this same approach.

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