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‘No bond’ suspected car thief gets into shootout with Memphis officer, kills cop

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Olivia Lloyd
The Charlotte Observer

A call about a suspicious vehicle led to a shootout that left a Memphis police officer and an 18-year-old dead, Tennessee authorities said.

A 17-year-old and another officer with the Memphis Police Department were hospitalized for their injuries, police said. A third officer was grazed by a bullet.

Interim Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis identified the slain officer as Joseph McKinney, who joined the department in 2020. The 18-year-old who was killed has not been identified.

“As chief of police, I am hurt right now,” Davis said in a news conference broadcast by WREG. “Today we are here, not just to talk about what happened last night, but to make an appeal to our community that gun violence has to stop.”

At about 2 a.m. April 12, officers responded to a call in southwest Memphis about a suspicious vehicle, the Memphis Police Department said in a news release.

As the officers approached the vehicle, they “were fired upon,” according to police.

They returned fire, then the vehicle fled the scene and made it less than a mile before it stopped, police said.

One suspect was taken into custody right away while another fled and was taken into custody nearby, Davis said.

Both were taken to a hospital in critical condition, where the 18-year-old driver died.

Memphis Mayor Paul Young called for “urgent action” to solve the issue of gun violence in the city.

“Our young people are dependent on us to get this right,” he said in the news conference. “And we need urgent action from this whole community.”

Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson also extended condolences to McKinney’s family in a news release.

“His death is yet another tragic and preventable outcome of gun violence,” Pearson said. “I am grateful for Officer McKinney’s service, saddened by his ultimate sacrifice and pray for comfort, healing and justice for all who cherish his memory.”

Gun violence in the US

Thousands of people die every year from firearm injuries in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Firearm injuries are a serious public health problem,” officials said. “In 2020, there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States – that’s about 124 people dying from a firearm-related injury each day.”

Firearm-related injuries were one of the top leading causes of death for people ages 1 to 44 in 2020, the CDC reported.

“More than half of firearm-related deaths were suicides and more than 4 out of every 10 were firearm homicides,” the CDC says.

The impact of gun violence, however, goes beyond the death toll, experts said.

“The effects of firearm violence extend beyond victims and their families,” according to the CDC. “Shooting incidents, including those in homes, schools, houses of worship, workplaces, shopping areas, on the street or at community events can affect the sense of safety and security of entire communities and impact everyday decisions.”

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