MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis police on Monday said officers shot a suspect after he attempted to enter a Jewish school with a gun and fired shots after he couldn't get into the building.
Assistant Police Chief Don Crowe said the suspect, whose identity has not been released, approached Margolin Hebrew Academy-Feinstone Yeshiva of the South around 12:20 p.m. He fired several shots and then left in a maroon truck.
“Thankfully, that school had a great safety procedure and process in place and avoided anyone being harmed or injured at that scene,” Crowe said.
Officers soon found the suspect's vehicle “shortly after that,” Crowe said, adding that officers then shot the suspect after he exited the truck with a firearm in hand. The suspect was sent to a hospital, where he is in critical condition.
It was not immediately clear if school was in session.
When asked if law enforcement believe the shooting was a hate crime, Crowe said officers were still on the scene and collecting information.
“It's way too early for that. Again, we're very early in this investigation,” Crowe said.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is now handling the case.
Oscar Gomez said two of his teenage children were outside their house when the man was shot in their neighborhood. They told him about the shooting when he arrived home from work, he said.
“They heard the shooting, and they threw themselves on the floor trying to protect themselves,” said Gomez, 39.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, whose district includes Memphis, said in a statement that he was “shocked” to hear about the incident at the school and noted that acts of “violent antisemitism” are on the rise across the country.
Monday's shooting comes nearly four months after a shooter opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville and killed six people, including three nine-year-old children. That tragedy has sparked closer scrutiny of Tennessee's relaxed gun laws and renewed calls to strengthen security at both public and private schools across the state.
Kimberlee Kruesi contributed to this report from Nashville, Tennessee