Mayoral candidates discuss crime as teens shot in Hickory Hill - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayoral candidates discuss crime as teens shot in Hickory Hill

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

As Memphis mayoral candidates argued about crime Monday night, two teen girls were shot in Hickory Hill.

WMC Action News 5 posed a question to all the candidates Tuesday, asking what they might have said different in the debate if they knew about the shooting. Only Jim Strickland responded.

“The shootings that occurred last night are examples of why I addressed reducing crime, despite never being asked a question about crime,” Strickland said. “Violent crime has increased in the last 3 years. This is the most important issue in this campaign. I spelled out how we need to be tougher on violent crime and intervene in the lives of young people so they choose the right path in life, not the wrong one.”

The candidates said talk is one thing, action is another, but they also said this crime problem is not just for one man or woman to solve.

"Our city is more violent than it was a few years ago, it's more blighted than it was a few years ago, and it's more littered than a few years ago," Strickland said during the debate.

"We're bringing jobs, unemployment is down, crime is down.  Memphis is a city that's on the move," said mayor A C Wharton.

One minute after Strickland’s statement during the debate, two girls, ages 15 and 17, were shot on Birch Walk Drive. The shooter had an ongoing feud with the 17-year-old’s boyfriend.

He left the scene after shooting one girl in the thigh and the other in the ankle, leaving gaping holes in the SUV’s windows across the street.

Deressa Walls lives a few houses down from the shooting and was watching the debate at the time.

"Until we do something about crime, just talking about it is not going to work," Walls said.

Walls and her husband of 18 years, Lawrence, have lived there throughout their entire marriage.

While this crime was in their neighborhood, the Walls ran off others who moved in and began breaking into houses and cars.

"We got together as a neighborhood watch because we're not afraid to look out for each other and we worked with the Ridgeway precinct," Walls said.

They said the next mayor will need backup.

"There's very little he can do without the help of us all," said Lawrence Walls.

As voters consider who will become their next leader, Operation: Safe Community said crime is down 3.9% since last year and major violent crime is down 16.2%.

For more on Operation: Safe Community's crime statistics, click here.

"Until we cut crime in this city for real and not just talk about it, until we address the education situation in this city and not just talk about it, the job creation in this city for real and not just talk about it, we're going to continue to have problems," said candidate Mike Williams.

Election day is October 8. Early voting begins September 11.

To watch the debate in full on our website, click here.

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