A police officer and an 18-year-old suspect are killed by gunfire in Memphis, Tennessee

Apr 12, 2024, 4:42 AM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee police chief made an impassioned plea to her community to help stop gun violence after a Memphis police officer and an 18-year-old suspect were killed as officers investigated a suspicious vehicle early Friday.

A second suspect, who is 17, was in critical condition, and another Memphis police officer was injured but not in critical condition, interim Police Director CJ Davis said at a news conference outside a Memphis hospital. A third officer was grazed and treated at the scene.

“We’re not just concerned about, you know, our officers. We’re concerned about the public in general,” Davis said. “This could have been anybody. And we’re just really, really disturbed at the boldness and the use of weapons in just all these different situations that we’re seeing in our community.”

Davis identified the officer who was killed as Joseph McKinney and said he been on the force about three years.

The 18-year-old suspect, whom Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy identified in a news release as Jaylen Lobley, was arrested last month in a stolen vehicle with an illegally modified semiautomatic weapon that converted it to what Davis described as a “fully automatic machine gun.”

“He was also charged at that time for two stolen vehicles and having a programming device commonly used to steal cars,” Davis said. However, he was released without bond.

Mulroy said in a news release that he is “outraged and deeply saddened by Officer Joseph McKinney’s passing.” He said a Shelby County Judicial Commissioner made the decision to release Lobley on his own recognizance — with conditions including reporting and curfew — and did so despite prosecutors strongly arguing against it, citing the defendant’s danger to the community.

The DA’s office had prioritized Lobley’s case as part of its violent crimes initiative that targets people found with stolen cars and guns or Glock switches that convert semi-automatic guns into automatic guns, Mulroy said. And even though Lobley was a first-time offender, his case had been accepted for federal prosecution.

Davis said she did not know what prompted the original call reporting the suspicious vehicle at around 2 a.m. The officers were fired upon when they approached it, and they returned fire, she said.

The suspects drove off but stopped a few blocks away, police said. One suspect was taken into custody immediately. They second fled but was found nearby, police said.

Police have contacted both the prosecutor’s office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which was already out on the scene Friday morning, she said.

Davis’ voice broke briefly as she spoke of how police employees are hurting and said that stopping gun violence has to be the work of the entire community.

“We have a family that’s grieving now. We have a wife that’s grieving now. We have the family of the suspects that are grieving now. And as a community, we have to do better. We have to, you know, ensure that parents know where our young people are at 3 o’ clock in the morning,” she said.

Mayor Paul Young also attended the news conference.

“We need our parents to step up. We need our churches to step up. We have to be the village that is going to protect this community,” Young said.

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A police officer and an 18-year-old suspect are killed by gunfire in Memphis, Tennessee