MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - An 18-year-old is dead, gunned down while playing basketball at outside a community center in Westwood in Southwest Memphis, his killer is still on the loose.
Devail Lewis is the city's latest murder victim. Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong and Mayor A C Wharton arrived at the scene Wednesday afternoon and spoke with the victim's family, it's a rare scene for them both to show up together. Residents say they were trying to send a message.
Wharton says, "The very purpose of a community center is supposed to be a place of peace and quiet." The scene at 810 Western Park was anything but, no calm, no quiet, no peace. Wharton says, "Until we get these guns off the street there is no safe place."
Virginia Sears' daughter and Lewis had a baby together a few months ago, Sears says, "(Lewis) didn't bother anybody, he stayed to himself. He's very quiet, he loved his baby." She described him as, "joyful, he was a happy child, he was just happy."
Valerie Davis grew up with Lewis, she says he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, "It wasn't meant for him, they were shooting at somebody else and he just got hit."
Davis lives across the street from the Charles Powell Community Center. She says Davis was playing basketball when she heard at least six gunshots. "I hit the ground, that was the crazy part." She says, "This is two days in a row where I have to hit the ground because of some shooting."
The shooting happened just before 4:00p.m. when the center was filled with children. Davis says, "There were about 25 to 30 kids in the community center. Some were at the park playing, some were communicating and the others were playing basketball."
Now the center is a community of family and friends in grief and a Mayor and Police Director trying to gain control.
Police are not releasing details about the suspect. Mayor Wharton says the problem is guns in the wrong hands. He wants to change the law and says people arrested on gun charges should face harsher penalties.