Family members identify victims of North Shelby County shooting

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Investigators are searching for the person who shot a couple in North Shelby County early Saturday morning, killing the man and leaving the woman in critical condition.

Family has identified them as Johnny Hamlett, 40, and Cherrie Bynum, 42.

Investigators say the couple was shot outside their home on Benjestown Road near Shelby Forest State Park.

"Anytime you pick up the paper or turn the TV on, there’s a killing," said neighbor Leon Wardlow. "I wasn’t expecting it here, though."

Shelby County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Earle Farrell says Bynum was shot three times, and was driving to a nearby fire station for help when she flagged down a deputy.

Farrell says it appears she was trying to defend herself when she was shot.

"She had been shot in the face and the arm and the hand, so it was almost kind of like a defensive motion," he said.

Hamlett was killed after being shot once in the head.

"Same kind of thing, both of his hands were shot up so he was obviously putting his hands up," Farrell said.

Neighbors describe the victims as a nice couple and say they had been squatting on the property, living in an RV for the past few months.

"Well, I didn’t know them that well," Wardlow said. "They’ve been back there about two or three months, I guess. They seemed to be pretty nice people and they get along OK."

Wardlow was jolted awake by the flashing lights around midnight as investigators taped off the street and the driveway leading to the couple's RV.

"See, my bedroom’s right there in the front and everything goes up and down that driveway. I don’t sleep good anyway – I could hear it," he said. "I come out, they had the road blocked."

Loved ones tell WREG Bynum underwent surgery on her face Saturday morning. She is in critical condition at Regional One, according to Farrell.

"The way her sister talks, she’s in pretty bad shape," Wardlow said.

Until she’s conscious and talking, investigators don’t know exactly what happened, but they’re hoping she can provide some answers.

If you know anything that could help investigators, call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.