Day of terror in Memphis leaves family and friends behind

A day of terror that left four dead and three injured in a Tennessee town this week tore a hole in the hearts of those left behind: the grandmother of three children left without parents, the man who lay down next to his fallen best friend. and refused to leave, the daughter whose wounded father is her “whole world.”

Police have so far released few details about the frenzy that left Memphis on lockdown as a gunman drove through the city for hours, opening fire on people and streaming some of the attacks on social media.

Police arrested 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly on Wednesday night when he surrendered after a car chase and charged him with first-degree murder during the shooting.

Although several of the victims have been publicly identified by friends and relatives, police had only released the name of the first victim, Dewayne Tunstall, on Friday.

Marcus Cash was at his house just before 1 a.m. Wednesday when he heard gunshots and ran outside to where Tunstall and some friends had gathered. Cash and Tunstall were so close they were like brothers, he said. When Cash saw Tunstall’s body, he lay down next to him.

“I had his blood all over me,” Cash said. “They couldn’t get me off the ground.”

After the police arrived, they held Cash for hours as a precaution because he was so distraught, he said.

“They said I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be out,” Cash said. “I was emotionally torn.”

When asked what he said to the police, he said, “You better catch him before I do.”

Tunstall was featured in a news story on Memphis television station WREG-TV last year after buying gas for a stranger at a local station. Olivia Jennings told a reporter that she was standing in line behind Tunstall when she started to joke with him about all the orange juice he bought. Then he offered to buy her gas.

The small act of kindness so touched Jennings that she asked to take a photo with Tunstall to post online. She told the station she wanted others to know that while Memphis is getting a bad reputation, there are good people all over town.

“The young man is about the same age as my son,” Jennings said. “I would just like to know if he was doing something nice, people would at least say something. You know, ‘You’re a good boy.’”

Allison Parker, a mother of three who worked as a medical assistant at a clinic in nearby West Memphis, Arkansas, was also killed on Wednesday.

Parker’s mother-in-law, Debbie Holland, said Parker’s children lost their father—her son—a few years ago. While on her way to visit her grandchildren on Thursday, she said by phone that the killer “did not just take one life,” but left the children without parents.

“She was beautiful, intelligent, kind-hearted, giving — she would help anyone who asked,” Holland said. “She didn’t deserve to die at the hands of this monster.”

A Facebook post from Dr. Trent Pierce at the West Memphis Family Practice Center, where Parker worked, said the office was mourning her death.

“Please pray for her family and all of our office staff as we deal with this senseless loss,” it read.

Rodolfo Berger was shopping in an AutoZone when he was shot just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, his daughter said.

Police said Kelly streamed the shooting live on Facebook, casually speaking to the camera before opening the shop door and firing what appeared to be a pistol. Police said the injured man was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Jenny Berger identified the victim as her father in a lengthy Facebook post.

“Today my father was the victim of a senseless act of violence. Memphis shooting. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she wrote.

Berger said she was terrified for hours, not knowing what had happened to the man she considers her best friend.

“I love this man so much,” she wrote. “If you know me, you know he is my world.”

A person who answered the phone at Jenny Berger’s office said she did not allow interviews. She wrote on Facebook that her father is recovering. A family friend has organized a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses.

“I can feel in my heart that he is so STRONG and ready for a journey of healing that lies ahead,” Berger wrote.


Loller reported from Nashville, Tennessee.