Twenty-five years later, widow remembers Shannon Street

Published: Feb. 20, 2008 at 8:39 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2008 at 2:55 AM CST
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Lindberg Sanders
Lindberg Sanders
Officer Ray Schwill
Officer Ray Schwill
Officer Robert Hester
Officer Robert Hester
Flash bangs ignite as police enter the Sanders' home on Shannon Street.
Flash bangs ignite as police enter the Sanders' home on Shannon Street.

Twenty-five years after her husband and son were shot to death inside a house on Shannon Street in Memphis, Dorothy Sanders is still re-living history.

"I never thought this was gonna happen," she said in a recent interview.  "I never thought it was gonna come to this."

When Sanders arrived at her home on January 12th, 1983, it was surrounded by Memphis Police.  Inside, her husband Lindberg, her son Larnell, and five other men, who police later referred to as part of a religious cult, had taken police patrol officer Robert Hester hostage.

Hester, along with partner Ray Schwill, had gone to Sanders' home to talk to a teenager accused of shoplifting.  That talk turned into an altercation, and Hester and Schwill were held captive by the men inside.
Gunfire erupted when other officers responded to the scene.  Schwill got away, but his partner did not.  During it all, Dorothy Sanders waited with police in a school house across the street.

"(I was) never able to talk to him," she said. "We were held like prisoners."

Memphis reporter Bill Dries covered the story for the Daily News. "It was just a living, breathing nightmare for everyone," he said.

Dries recalled a sinister exchange between Sanders and negotiators.

"I remember vividly one exchange, and that was where the voice, which I assume was Lindberg Sanders, said, 'I've got everything that I want, and if you want it you can come in here and get it.'"

When the smoke cleared, a police officer spoke to those waiting across the street.

"And he said, 'They all are dead,'" Dorothy Sanders recalled.

Officer Hester had been brutally beaten to death by his captors, themselves shot to death by police.

Julian Bolton was a newly elected Shelby County Commissioner at the time. "I don't think our community has ever lived that moment down," he said.

Bolton was among many who questioned police procedure that night.

"I don't believe that all of them were guilty of killing that police officer," he said.

Six of the seven men in the house were shot in the head.  Crime scene photos showed their bodies lying side by side in a back room.

"Their positioning suggested an execution, quite frankly," Bolton said.

"You know, from what I can see from the pictures and stuff, it was just really brutality," Dorothy Sanders said.

But the FBI ruled otherwise.  An investigation found the shootings were justified.  Dorothy Sanders disagrees, saying the killings were an act of vengeance in black and white.

Sanders wants the case re-opened, and has hired an attorney to prepare a lawsuit.

"All I want is justice," she said.

Justice...25 years after the murder of a man sworn to protect and serve, and the deaths of seven others inside a house on Shannon Street.

You can watch Action New 5's 1983 coverage of the events on Shannon Street in the video player to the right of this story>>>

to send an email to Anna Marie Hartman.