‘Our crime problem was once manageable; it is unsustainable today’: Lawmaker sounds off on continued shots-fired calls in Memphis

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:39 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis police say someone fired several gunshots Monday in the parking lot of a busy shopping center. It happened outside of Kroger in Poplar Plaza, at Poplar and Highland.

No one was hurt, but it was a scary situation for hundreds just trying to get groceries for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Just five days earlier, the same situation at the newly-opened Topgolf, where police found 14 shell casings in the parking lot.

Action News 5’s Imani Williams spoke with someone who works in the Poplar Plaza shopping center, who said she was not surprised by the incident. The employee also explained how people are becoming bold with acts of violence.

Lawmakers and police say they need change as reports of shots fired are pulling Memphis Police officers in all directions across the city.

“All too often, we find people that say, ‘shots fired are common,’ or ‘this vehicle really didn’t mean nothing,’ but often times, it did, and those shots do matter to us,” said Officer Christopher Williams with the Memphis Police Department.

According to the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission’s safety plan, the concern for gun violence is well-paced with how crime is growing.

“The difference between when I was in the city council and county commission and now is that our crime problem was once manageable; it is unsustainable today,” said Tennessee State Senator Brent Taylor for District 31 of Memphis.

As police and lawmakers continue to try to figure out a plan, Taylor says the way to tackle gun violence is prison time.

“We need to send the message that if you use a gun, you’re done, and that you are going to go to prison for a long time if you commit a violent offense with a firearm,” he said. “That’s how we can begin to tackle some of the use of guns and firearms in some of the violent crime.”

Over 6,000 reported violent incidents in Memphis involved guns from January to September of this year, according to the crime commission. That is an increase of 10% from last year’s numbers.

Taylor said he believes there will need to be many first steps before the General Assembly will look at anything related to changes in gun restrictions.

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