City leaders hope new crime prevention program will put a stop to gun violence in Downtown Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As pandemic restrictions begin to loosen, the social scene downtown is picking back up.

But within the last month, police have responded to at least two different shootings downtown.

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“It’s definitely a surprise, the uptick and shootings that have happened,” said Jennifer Brown, who lives downtown.

Brown said downtown is usually a safe and quiet area, but the recent violence has her on edge.

“I hear it from my apartment at least once every weekend. It’s like a lot of gunshots, too. It’s not like a one-off. It’s kind of scary,” she said.

Brown said gun violence is especially concerning as pandemic restrictions loosen.

“I feel like the downtown area is starting to pick back up after COVID,” she said.

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“There’s a lot more people on the weekends, and something like that will only set us back.”

Police were called to the intersection of South Main Street and Peabody Place for a shooting on Saturday.

Police said Dylan Lovell was driving on Main St. when several unknown men ran up and fired shots into his car. Lovell later died at the hospital.

On April 5,  police said shots were fired outside the new Hyatt Centric hotel downtown, damaging the building and hitting a car.

“I think if you look at these crimes, they are very similar to what happened in Crosstown a few years ago, where you had people driving by shooting at each other,” Memphis city councilman Jeff Warren said.

Warren said the city is working to strike back against gang activity and violence with a group violence intervention program.

Warren hopes it will lower the city’s murder rate by 10 percent each year.

“We have to try to get these automatic assault weapons and rifles off the streets and out of criminals’ hands,” he said. “We have to do it in a way that will take people who may be the next shooter and intervene before they do the crime.”

Saturday’s shooting was in an area very popular with tourists and locals.

Leaders with Memphis tourism said they’re working with law enforcement and with the city to determine where extra staffing is needed to help combat crime.