Memphis Mayor answers questions on last night’s Frayser violence

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland praised local law enforcement officers Thursday, hours after a violent confrontation with a crowd in Frayser following a deadly shooting involving U.S. Marshals.

He also had a word of condolence to the family of Brandon Webber, the 20-year-old suspect wanted on warrants who was killed by marshals after he allegedly tried to ram them with a vehicle.

“I grieve for the loss of life. I see this too much, loss of young lives. I grieve for that and grieve for his family. They lost a loved one,” Strickland said.

"Secondly, I am so proud of the Memphis Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff's Office. Their actions last night were remarkable. They endured assaults and batteries, rocks and bricks were thrown at them, injuring about 35 law enforcement officers, and no retaliation. And they brought peace to that area, and it's just remarkable, the courage and the strength reflected from great training."

Lastly, he said the violence against officers and media and property damage were unacceptable and could not be tolerated.

"It was a dangerous situation out there. Law enforcement was being physically attacked, and they kept their cool."

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, officers with the U.S. Marshal Service’s  Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force came into contact with Webber, who was wanted on multiple felony warrants, as he was getting into a vehicle in the 2000 block of Durham in Frayser on Wednesday.

While officers attempting to stop Webber, he reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officer’s cruisers multiple times before jumping out with a weapon.  The officers opened fire, striking and killing the man.

After the shooting, Memphis police officers at the Old Allen Station received a call to assist the U.S. Marshals. MPD officers were not involved in Webber’s shooting.

Around that time, a large group started gathering on the scene and several individuals began throwing concrete rocks and bricks at officers and squad cars. Fire officials also said windows were broken out of a fire station, though no firefighters were hurt.

Memphis Police said Thursday that a total of 36 MPD officers and Shelby County deputies had been injured. Several were taken to a hospital in non-critical condition, and all were released from the hospital by Thursday afternoon, MPD said.

Strickland said he was at a town hall meeting in Hyde Park when he got a message from Police Director Michael Rallings about the shooting around 7 p.m.

He responded "No" when asked whether he should have been on the scene, and said no mayor or governor should have been on the scene because they are not trained law enforcement. He had no comment on fellow mayoral candidate Tami Sawyer, who was on the scene posting to social media.

The mayor said that Frayser had seen success in recent years in terms of home ownership and property values, and he said the city would be in contact with community leaders in Frayser to address solutions.

"We will continue our efforts to work with the Frayser community through community policing, through partnerships on early childhood education, and build on those relationships to try to make that community, and Memphis as a whole, better."

On News Channel 3's Live at 9, Shelby County Commissioners Eddie Jones and Mark Billingsley weighed in on how the investigation should be handled and the need to tackle the issue of crime and violence in Memphis.

"It's unfortunate it happened. I know an investigation is going on. This was a young man in college, and we just need to find the answers," Jones said.

"Typically, US Marshals don't come to your door unless you're wanted for multiple serious crimes. Most of the citizens I talked to in my district are disappointed and will move out of the district if we don't address it, crime and violence," Billingsley said.

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