Teenager dead in shooting near Bartlett fireworks display

BARTLETT, Tenn. — Bartlett police said a teenager is dead after being gunned down in the parking lot of the Taco Bell at 7571 Highway 70.

It happened just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday near the Flaherty Municipal Center, where thousands of people were gathering for the city's fireworks display.

Bartlett police said officers working the Bartlett Fireworks Extravaganza saw a fight break out in the Taco Bell parking lot. Officers said the fight escalated and shots were fired on the west side of the parking lot.

A 17-year-old was hit several times in the chest and taken to the hospital. The victim died later.

WREG isn't releasing his name but loved ones described him as someone who always made others laugh.

Witnesses said they heard anywhere from seven to 12 gunshots.

“My son said that when the gunfire started, they were told, the employees who were assisting, they were told to huddle together and stay put," said Lisa Hill, whose 18-year-old son was working the event when the gunfire started.

Investigators said they don’t think this was a random shooting; they believe the gunman and the victim know each other.

It’s not clear if police have the suspect in custody.

"It was really scary because, you know, you were in the midst of you don't know what is going on and all you see is police running everywhere," said Juanita Bond, who brought her nephew to watch the fireworks.

She was walking back to her car at the Taco Bell when she found out someone had been shot. She returned Wednesday to get her car, and said it could have been much worse, considering the amount of children in the area.

"The closest we got was to the sidewalk. and the police made everybody get on that side because the suspect was still at large," she said.