Suspect Tremaine Wilbourn turns self in to investigators

Published: Aug. 3, 2015 at 9:17 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2015 at 1:32 AM CDT
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(Source: TBI)
(Source: TBI)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The man Memphis Police Department believes to be responsible for the shooting death of MPD Officer Sean Bolton is in custody.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office confirmed the arrest Monday afternoon.

Memphis Police Department Director Toney Armstrong said Wilbourn turned himself into U.S. Marshals at the federal building in Memphis just before 5 p.m.

"I felt the walls closing in on him," said Armstrong. "It would be in his best interest to turn himself in."

WMC Action News 5 crews found a large SWAT team presence in South Memphis near the apartment complex where Wilbourn's grandmother lives in the area of South Parkway and Pennsylvania. Armstrong confirmed this scene was related to the case.

Police officers at that scene said they received a tip that he might be there. That was around the time that Wilbourn turned himself in at the federal building.

People near the scene were chanting, "Free T," frustrated by the arrest. They even directed some violence towards WMC Action News 5 crews, threatening them. The situation eventually calmed down.

"I was just really worried about him," said Wilbourn's sister. "We knew it wasn't gonna end pretty if he would've fought it out, so I'm just glad that he turned himself in because I love that man (sic) and I didn't want to go to no funeral."

The reward for information leading to the capture of 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn increased from $10,000 to nearly $50,000 on Monday. He was also added to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top 10 Most Wanted list.

Before Wilbourn's arrest, Memphis Councilman Myron Lowery said,  "It's important to everyone in this community that this guy be caught. He does not deserve to be on the streets."

Wilbourn has been on the run since Saturday, when Officer Bolton was shot multiple times during a traffic stop in Memphis. The driver of the vehicle turned himself into police and was later released. That is when MPD identified Wilbourn as the shooting suspect. A warrant for first-degree murder was issued for him on Sunday.

"When you look at this individual, you're looking at a coward," Police Director Toney Armstrong said as he held up a picture of Wilbourn at a news conference. "As I have said many times, to lose a loved one or a family member is a horrific event. Last night we lost not only an officer, but a great man, a dedicated servant to our community, and a family member."

During a news conference with Armstrong and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Armstrong said that Wilbourn told him he is neither a cold-blooded killer nor a coward.

Armstrong also delivered a series of 'thank you's to those who assisted the arrest.

"I would again like to thank everyone, the citizens of Memphis, residents abroad, and fellow law enforcement agencies who have reached out with prayers, condolences, and support. In particular, I want to thank the officers of the Memphis Police Department and the US Marshals' services for their tireless efforts," said Director Armstrong. "I also want to thank everyone who has assisted in spreading the word and who assisted in the search; I am sure in some way this aided in Wilbourn surrendering."

Armstrong also mentioned that the family of Officer Bolton was relieved to find out about the arrest, but they would appreciate their privacy.

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