Attempted murder suspect claimed he was prepared to surrender

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Dennis Roberts reflected on his encounter with a burglar a day after crime scene tape surrounded his home in rural Shelby County.

"I'm blessed," said Roberts.  "And lucky," he added.

His life nearly ended after catching the armed man in the act.   

"He shot through my arm," said Roberts.  "Came through the other side and hit my chest and kind of bounced towards my elbow," he described.

Sheriff's deputies have searched for 52 year-old Willie Gatewood of Memphis ever since they say he left Dennis Roberts for dead.

"It was very clear Mr. Gatewood meant business," said Shelby Co. Sheriff's Office spokesman Steve Shular.

We have learned a SWAT Team descended on the neighborhood around Graceland Elementary School Wednesday night.  It's where Gatewood's mother and step-father live.

Gatewood's step-father, who happens to be a former federal building security guard, told us he spoke with Gatewood on the phone hours after the shooting.  He said Gatewood agreed to turn himself in Thursday morning and even spoke with a detective.

But, so far, deputies have been left with only tips.

"One call in particular said they believe they saw him in another vehicle casing neighborhoods possibly in the Bartlett area," said Shular.

Gatewood's extensive rap sheet dates back to 1981 and includes arrests for carjacking, robbery, burglary, and theft.

Look no farther than Dennis Roberts to learn how serious a threat Willie Gatewood should be considered.

"I don't believe in carrying guns," said Roberts.  "But I do now," he added.

Willie Gatewood is known to drive a maroon GMC Envoy with Tennessee tag 658 XHW.  Call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH with any information.

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