Tense moments after mentally ill man shoots at family members - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tense moments after mentally ill man shoots at family members

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Family members were shaken, but grateful to be alive, after a relative with a handgun opened fire on them Thursday morning.

The incident happened in a home in the 5300 block of Loch Lomond just before 10:00 a.m. Thursday.  A short time later, police surrounded the home.

At the scene, family member Tony Hawkins said his nephew, Deshandre Dennis, opened fire on several people, including his mother, sister, girlfriend and brother.

"His brother came over to our house running," Hawkins said. "I answered the door and said, 'What's going on?' He was crying and startled and said that his brother had been shooting at him."

Everyone made it out of the house unharmed, and as police prepared for a standoff with an armed suspect, they assumed he was still holed up inside.  But according to Lt. Col. Michael Hardy of the Memphis Police Department, just prior to calling in a tactical team, officers learned the house was empty.

"We received information that the subject exited the house prior to the officers arrival," Hardy said.

Later, Horn Lake police took a man matching Dennis' description into custody, but no charges have been filed.

Dennis' uncle, Fred Hawkins, said he has a history of mental illness, but refuses to seek treatment.

"He's thirty-years-old," Fred Hawkins said. "You can't force him to get help. He's been like this now, what, five years? At least five years."

Hawkins said Thursday's crisis wasn't the first time Dennis has been a threat to his own family, but they hope it will be the last. 

"I mean, what can you do? You can't make him get help. You just have to pray and hope for the best," he said.

Check back for updates on this story.

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