MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Armed officers and an angry crowd faced off late Wednesday night after reports that at least one man was fatally shot by authorities in a working-class north Memphis neighborhood.
Memphis police said people in the crowd threw rocks and bricks, with 25 officers suffering minor mostly minor injuries. Officers cordoned off several blocks near the scene. By 11 p.m., officers had used tear gas and most of the crowd dispersed, police director Michael Rallings said at a Thursday morning at a news conference. Three people were arrested.
Officers on horseback patrolled the area, and lines of police cars with flashing blue lights were parked along the street. An ambulance could be seen at the outer edge of the scene. A helicopter flew overhead as police cars trickled away.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said its agents were on the scene of a shooting involving a regional anti-crime task force. TBI spokeswoman Keli McAlister said early Thursday that the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force went to a Frayser home to look for a suspect with felony warrants. Marshals saw the man get into a vehicle and then proceed to ram police vehicles several times before exiting with a weapon, McAlister said. Police then opened fire, killing the man who died at the scene. McAlister did not say how many marshals fired or how many times the man was shot.
Memphis police said none of its officers was involved in the shooting.
One local official identified the victim as Brandon Webber and said he was shot several times in his family's front yard. Family members confirmed to the Daily Memphian that 21-year-old Webber died.
In identifying Webber on Twitter early Thursday, Shelby County Commissioner and mayoral candidate Tami Sawyer said “Every life lost should matter...every single one. How many times will this be ok? It cannot continue to be.”
Rallings implored residents to wait until the TBI finishes its investigation before spreading possible misinformation about the shooting. “I need everyone to stay calm,” he said. “While police have been supportive of past protests,” Rallings added, “we will not allow any acts of violence.”
Passion Anderson, a 34-year old student, brought her 13-year-old son to the scene early Thursday. She grew up in Memphis and recently moved back to the Frayser neighborhood, a mostly low- to middle-income area with modest single-family homes and apartments. She said she worried about her son's safety every day in Memphis which struggles with crime and gang activity.
“I just want him to see this, know what's going on, to be conscious,” she said. “I fear for him all the time.”