MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Violence overshadowed an event aimed at preventing gun violence when five kids were shot after leaving a basketball event organized by the Gun Down program and Memphis Athletic Ministries.
“The incident happened after our event and not on our property,” said Randy Odem, the chief operating officer for Memphis Athletic Ministries.
Odem would rather be talking about the highlights of the program. Instead, he’s reacting to a shooting that’s left five kids recovering in the hospital.
“That incident hurts our heart because we know those kids.”
Saturday night, five people between 12 to 19 years old left an event called Midnight Basketball at the Memphis Athletic Ministries Grizzlies Center.
When they got back to their apartment complex down the street around 11:30 p.m., police say five people in a car opened fire, leaving a 12-year-old in critical condition.
Police say Tony Coburn was one of five people in a car and is now under arrest.
“Saturday night we had that safe, positive environment,” said Odem.
Odem says the event, which is going on Saturday nights for the next five weeks, is a basketball tournament with mentors standing by to talk with teens and a lot of police presence.
“We had five or six police officers who mobilized from the Grizzlies Center and went right to that incident,” said Odem.
He says the event is for 16- to 20-year-olds and the two 12-year-olds were not part of the event. They just came by to check it out. Randy knows them from the after-school and summer activities the Athletic Ministries puts on.
As for teens being out late for Midnight Basketball, he says teens are going to be out late anyway so the event at least gives them something positive to do.
“That’s why we have that event – to let those kids have a safe place to be and to impact them in a positive way.”
Midnight Basketball lets out at 11 p.m. so teens can be home by midnight.
Police are still looking for four other people who took part in the shooting.
Coburn, who is locked up, is charged with five counts of attempted murder and in jail on $1.5 million bond.