MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Authorities were investigating Monday after a Memphis police officer and another person were shot to death at a hotel in the middle of the city's entertainment district filled with people celebrating Independence Day.
In a news release, police said a suspect was in custody and he was hospitalized due to non-critical injuries sustained during his arrest.
Police Director Toney Armstrong says Officer Timothy Warren, a patrol officer with the department since 2003, died at Regional Medical Center after the shooting.
Warren was among several officers responding to a call at the Doubletree Hotel around 7 p.m. Sunday. A civilian victim, who had not yet been positively identified, was also shot and pronounced dead at the scene in what officials said started as a domestic dispute.
Armstrong has been director of Memphis police department for just a couple months.
"Even if you had been the director 20 years, this is the one phone call that you hope you never have to get," he said.
WMC-TV reported that police had responded earlier in the night to a disturbance call involving the same suspect, but let him go. When they were called back, the officer who was shot took the stairs while other officers took the elevator.
Police cars and heavily armed officers swarmed the hotel and surrounding area. The hotel sits at a busy intersection adjacent to the historic Peabody hotel and the Memphis Redbirds minor-league baseball stadium, where a game was in progress.
Joel Miller of Maryland was attending a family reunion at the hotel. He told The Commercial Appeal that he got in an elevator with the suspect, who was wearing shorts and a plaid shirt.
He "seemed off," Miller told the newspaper, "like he was out of it."
Miller said as the man got off on the third floor, he pulled a gun from his pocket. "He looked at us and pointed his finger and did like this," Miller said, pretending to fire a weapon.