AP NEWS

Police records: Most Memphis homicides involved firearms

December 23, 2018

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The vast majority of homicides that occurred in Memphis this year were the result of gunfire, according to police records.

The Commercial Appeal reports that 176 deaths were ruled homicides in Memphis between Jan. 1 and Dec. 19, based on Memphis police records obtained by the newspaper. Ninety percent of those homicides involved firearms.

One church recently held a vigil for victims. Nearly 200 people attended the event at the fellowship hall of First Congregational Church — many silently holding small electric candles with names ascribed in black.

Each of the more than 100 flickering candles represented a Memphis man, woman or child killed by gun violence in 2018.

After a prayer, the names of the victims were read aloud by several in attendance.

“Dorian Harris,” a middle-aged man near the front of the hall said.

Police say Harris, 17, was shot and killed on March 31 in North Memphis by a store clerk after Harris stole a beer. Anwar Ghazali was charged with first-degree murder, and a judge set his bond at $1 million.

In the church, the man read another name: “Dejaun Hill.”

Hill was killed on May 6 after a gunman shot up his friend’s car.

Soon after the shooting, Hill’s mother, Talisha Brooks, said he was trying to find his “way in the world like a lot of young men.”

For young people in Memphis who sometimes could be adversely affected by trauma surrounding gun violence, Deandre Brown, founder of Lifeline to Success, said it’s difficult for younger generations to cope.

Brown was among several groups who met at the church Dec. 14 to commemorate Memphis victims of gun violence in 2018. Brown said losing a person to gun violence can always be an issue that family or a close friend of the victim can have trouble processing mentally even years later.

“People don’t realize that it is a wound that never heals when you lose someone to gun violence, you always wonder why,” Brown said.

“But no matter what you do, you can never resolve that question so it just lingers and eats at you, just continually.”

Brown said the emotions young people experience when someone they know is gunned down come in “like a flood”, and things can get even more difficult when the young person does not have the right person to talk to about it.

“Sometimes they want to be involved and retaliate. It is difficult for them to have to learn at an early age how to deal with something so tragic and not become a part of that problem as well,” Brown said.

“They are still learning how to deal with their own lives and then they have this thing that comes in and no one can explain to them how to deal with it because so many people have not gone through it themselves.”

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com