MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The family of the man who fired shots outside an East Memphis private school after trying to get inside the building has a history with Memphis Police that dates back 20 years.
Joel Bowman caused panic when he tired to get inside Margolin Hebrew Academy on Monday afternoon and terror when he fired shots outside the building.
But he doesn’t have a lot of history with Memphis Police. We found only one case in his court file, a traffic ticket back in 2016 for violating the speed limit in a school zone.
However, Bowman’s family had a background with Memphis police that turned deadly 20 years ago.
In a 2003 lawsuit, Bowman vs. the City of Memphis, Dr. Anthony Bowman’s wife Susan said police shot and killed her husband when responding to a 911 call she made.
She said she told the 911 operators that her husband had a gun, was bipolar, was acting erratically and emotionally distraught, but was not threatening anyone but himself.
She said officers who responded shot Dr. Bowman multiple times, killing him. But in court, she failed to get any damage for herself or her son, Joel.
Friends of Joel Bowman told WREG he had been emotionally disturbed since his dad’s death, and some wondered if that set him off Monday.
“We have avoided a tragedy. I think the suspect was gonna harm somebody before the day was over,” said MPD Assistant Chief Don Crowe.
Friends told WREG that Bowman was once a student at Margolin Hebrew Academy. Rep. Steve Cohen confirmed that, and Bowman’s Facebook page indicates he attended Cooper Yeshiva school, which is part of Margolin Hebrew Academy.
But what brought Bowman back to the school Monday is still unclear.
No students were at the school and there were no injuries. Police caught Bowman a short distance away in Berclair and shot him after they say he got out of his vehicle with a gun in his hand.
Bowman’s condition Tuesday was not known. He was not listed in a Shelby County Jail inmate roster Tuesday afternoon.
Bowman lived with his mother in Stanton, Tennessee, a small town about an hour northeast of Memphis.
Monday, Memphis Police asked the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department to make a welfare check at the address.
“Because he was in the hospital, we were told, a victim of a gunshot wound and they needed to check on the welfare of his mother. That’s what we were sent to do but were disregarded once we got there, to disregard…we’ve located her…she’s fine,” said Sheriff Billy Garrett
Sheriff Garrett said the request was not an unusual one for his department. He said neither he nor his deputies have ever had any contact with Bowman or his mother.
“I’ve been asked what we know about this gentleman and we don’t know hardly anything about the family. They’ve been a quiet family there on Dancyville Road and just been there for a few years,” he said.
No one living nearby wanted to go on camera, most saying they had no idea who Bowman is.
Sheriff Garrett still wondering what sparked Bowman to allegedly create Monday’s havoc.
“It’s regrettable. I mean, certainly when it involves this type of incident right here it concerns me that it’s a possibility that we would have someone who lives in our county do something like that,” he said.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation. Sheriff Garrett says the TBI has not contacted his office and Memphis Police have yet to name charges against Bowman.
The school issued a statement Tuesday thanking Memphis police for their response, and the Memphis community for their support.
“We are shocked and saddened by the events that took place at MHA-FYOS yesterday, and incredibly grateful to God that thanks to our school’s extensive security measures and the swift response by the Memphis Police Department, everyone is safe,” the school said.