MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After a rash of highway shootings early in the year, Memphis Police have been all over highways and interstates in the city. It has seemed to cut down on crime, until this weekend when another two shootings were reported.
Police received a call about a black car firing shots at other cars on Interstate 40 near Watkins early Sunday morning.
When they pulled over the car, the driver, Tarrence Shoffner, had two loaded handguns and reportedly told police he was ready to shoot them if things turned more violent.
“Of course again, there’s gonna be the individuals that are aggressive and it doesn’t matter if there’s 15 cops around, they’re going to get aggressive,” said Max Maxwell, executive director of Maxwell Driving School. “And there’s not much you can do about that.”
After interstate shootings around Memphis earlier this year, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement began Operation Grizzly Bear in July to provide an increased presence.
Authorities said it’s deterred interstate violence, but they can’t be everywhere at once.
“There has been a decrease in incidents along the interstates but again, we encourage anybody, if you’re a victim of a crime or if you witness an incident on the interstates, on the streets or anywhere in the city of Memphis, call Memphis Police,” Lt. Louis Brownlee said.
“We’re more reactive than proactive, it’s just the nature of the beast when you get a call,” Maxwell said. “But if its been going on, and it’s been going on for 5 or 10 minutes, if you alert the police early enough, they can intercept.”
Authorities said if another driver points a gun at you or worse, shoots at you, the best course of action is to get away as safe as possible.
“Your first option is to remove yourself from the circumstance,” Mark McDaniel, Collierville chief prosecutor, said. “Not to point your gun and shoot back, but if you can retreat, that is always your best option.”
Authorities also warned that you can be charged with a felony just by flashing a gun on the interstate.
This would be at least the 35th highway shooting in Memphis in 2019.
Shoffner was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and being a felon in possession of a handgun.
Another man was also charged with shooting at a tractor-trailer on I-240 on Friday.