Memphis police officer dead after downtown multiple shooting

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MEMPHIS — A Memphis Police Department officer is dead following a string of shootings near the city’s famed Beale Street, authorities said.

Officer Verdell Smith, 46, was struck by a suspect’s vehicle while trying to clear a crime scene at about 10:20 p.m. local time Saturday, Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings told reporters.

Smith was killed after two separate shootings Saturday night.

“I am angry this morning — angry at the senseless loss of a dedicated public servant, and angry at the absolutely unacceptable level of violence in our city,” Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement. “We must not accept this as our norm. I most certainly will not, and I will continue to act to make our city safer.”

Three people were shot in separate incidents — two at a local restaurant were reported at about 10 p.m., and minutes later an employee at a Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, close by the eatery, Westy’s.

Smith, an 18-year veteran of the force, was struck by the suspect shortly afterward as officers were working to clear the area. The suspect tried to flee on foot but was picked up by officers.

The two men shot at the restaurant are in critical condition, while the Bass Pro employee is non-critical, Rallings said.

The suspect is now in custody.

He attempted to flee the scene in a silver vehicle, and police lost him on the nearby Interstate 55.

However, he returned to the crime scene and hit Smith with his vehicle.

Mayor: Tributes for MPD’s ‘dangerous’ work

“My family joins all of Memphis in mourning the loss of Officer Verdell Smith, who gave his life in service to our city,” Strickland said.

“I call on every Memphian to remember Officer Smith’s family in prayer and reflection today and in the coming days — and to be grateful for the dangerous, important work our men and women of MPD perform every day.

No charges have been filed as yet.

Officer Smith was survived by his father, children and fiancee.

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