(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — A police officer was killed in Memphis, Tennessee Saturday night after being he struck by a vehicle — while clearing an intersection of pedestrians — driven by a triple shooting suspect fleeing police.
The officer was Verdell Smith, 46, an 18-veteran of the Memphis Police Department, officials said.
Following the incident, Memphis mayor Jim Strickland wrote in a Facebook post that he was “angry at the absolutely unacceptable level of violence in our city.”
The chain of events kicked off at 9:57 p.m. when officers responded to a dispatch call and arrived at Westy’s Restaurant and Bar to find two males who had been shot, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said during a press conference. Both victims were then transported in critical condition to Regional One Health.
Then at 10:02 p.m., officers received another call, this time to Bass Pro Shops across the street. When they arrived there, officers located a male who had been shot. He was transferred to Regional One in non-critical condition, MPD’s Rallings said.
The male suspect believed to be responsible for the three shootings fled in a vehicle, which was located soon after — but officers lost sight of him. The suspect was spotted again, but “he fled again from officers,” Rallings said.
A few blocks away from where the suspect had fled, Officer Smith was clearing the area of pedestrians. That’s when the suspect struck him.
“The suspect then fled from the vehicle and was taken into custody after a brief foot chase,” Rallings said. “Officer Smith was transported to Regional One in critical condition were he later succumbed to his injuries.”
The suspect was also transported to Regional One in non-critical condition.
Rallings said at the press conference, “We are currently working several different scenes in connection with this incident. Details are still being gathered and no charges have been filed at this point due to the fact that this is an ongoing investigation.”
Mayor Strickland wrote in his Facebook post, “My family joins all of Memphis in mourning the loss of Officer Verdell Smith, who gave his life in service to our city. I call on every Memphian to remember Officer Smith’s family in prayer and reflection today and in the coming days — and to be grateful for the dangerous, important work our men and women of MPD perform every day.”
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