Dewayne Tunstall has a desire to run a food truck and plans to name it “EBE,” inspired by a saying in his life: “Everyone eats,” his friend Marcus Cash told CNN affiliate WMC.
But in the early hours of Wednesday, Tunstall was shot while visiting Cash’s home — becoming the first victim of a violent shooting that engulfed the city of Memphis until the suspect was arrested later that night.
The shooting comes days after the body of Eliza Fletcher, a Memphis teacher who was kidnapped and murdered on Friday, was found. A spate of deadly attacks across the city over the past week has drawn anger and fear from the city’s leaders, who say the violence is unacceptable.
The shooting suspect, 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly, appeared in Shelby County court for the first time on Friday and was charged with first-degree murder.
Kelly is accused of killing Tunstall, the first victim of the shooting. The 1 a.m. shooting that killed Tunstall sparked a series of other shootings across the city that killed three others and wounded three others, authorities said.
Kelly, who was escorted into the courtroom by a representative, was shackled, wearing a Navy prison uniform and a black face mask. He answered the judge’s questions briefly, but made no plea.
Judge Karen L. Massey appointed a public defender to represent Kelly.
She has scheduled Kelly’s next motion hearing for Sept. 13. He was held in unconditional custody at the Shelby County Jail, records show.
Police said they are expected to face additional charges.
The citywide search for Kelly, also known as “Zeek Huncho,” prompted a shelter-in-place order in parts of the city and a temporary halt to bus and trolley service in the area.
Police responded to the first shooting of the afternoon at 4:38 p.m. and found a man in his car with multiple gunshot wounds, police said. Minutes later, police said they found a woman with a gunshot wound to the leg in another location.
Kelly was allegedly streaming on Facebook Live more than an hour later when he opened fire in a store, according to Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis. When the police arrived at the scene, they found a man who had been shot and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Officers then went to three other locations, where they found a man and two women who had been shot, according to police. Davis said the man was taken to hospital in a non-critical condition, but both women died. The gunman allegedly stole an SUV from one of the women, she said.
The vehicle was found on I-55 within minutes of learning that Kelly had held a person at gunpoint and took off in the victim’s Dodge Challenger, police said. Davis said Kelly was arrested after a high-profile car chase, and when he was taken into custody, he could see two weapons in the car.
While the motive for the attack is unclear, the city of Memphis must now recover from violent attacks on several members of its community.
Tunstall’s friends remember him as a young father with big dreams and a generous spirit.
“He was sweating. He wanted to get out of here. He wanted to be successful. He wanted to do that in his music. He pushed all his friends to do better,” Tunstall’s friend Princess Onwubiko told CNN affiliate WHBQ.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland expresses ‘deepest sympathies’ to victims and their loved ones, condemns violent Memphis attack a statement On Wednesday night, they argued they could have prevented the loopholes in the criminal justice system.
“I’m outraged for them and I’m outraged for our citizens who had to take shelter in place for their own safety until this suspect was caught. This is not our way of life and it is unacceptable,” St. Rickland said.
Kelly was released in March after serving a three-year sentence and 11 months for aggravated battery. He initially faced more serious charges in a 2020 Shelby County case, including attempted murder, reckless endangerment and use of a firearm with intent to commit a dangerous felony, but he only pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated assault, court records show.
“If Mr. Kelly had served his three-year sentence, he would still be in prison today and four of our fellow citizens would still be alive,” Strickland said.
In his statement, the mayor urged “these nefarious acts show why truth must be told in sentencing,” referring to a new Tennessee law that would require those convicted of certain violent crimes to execute full sentence.
CNN has reached out to the Shelby County Public Defender for comment.