DYERSBURG, TN (WMC) –
DYERSBURG, Tenn. – Authorities say a man accused of fatally shooting the mother of a 2-year-old during the child’s birthday party in western Tennessee had been at the residence earlier in the day in a disturbance reported to police.
Dyersburg, Tennessee, Police Chief Steven Isbell said 30-year-old Torius Russell was charged Friday morning with first-degree murder.
The shooting happened about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Seven people at the party, including a 6-year-old, were wounded.
Isbell said police were called to the home about 4 p.m. on a report of a car that had just left the scene with an armed occupant. He said officers found the vehicle and searched it but didn’t find a weapon.
He said Russell was an occupant in the vehicle at the time. He said Russell was alone when he returned to the home.
According to neighbors, the woman that was killed is the mother of the 2-year-old. Neighbors believe the shooting was gang related.
According to Star Gazette, Dyersburg police said they received reports that at least one car drove through the neighborhood, carrying people who were flashing guns. Officers later made traffic stops in the area, but did not find any guns.
Stephanie Childress, a neighbor, was the first to arrive on the scene after she heard gunshots. She said she was preparing to cook dinner when gunshots rang out.
“Only thing I knew to do, was to try and run down here and help as much as I could,” Childress said. “It was hysterical. The baby was sitting in the high chair and there was, I know, two on the porch that were shot. The one lady that I was helping was on the ground.”
Childress said she heard three shots at first, called 911, and then heard three to four more shots as she headed toward the house.
Another neighbor arrived while they were waiting on emergency responders. He helped perform CPR on the victims until the police arrived.
“It’s bad here. It’s terrible,” Danny Singletary said. “I feel sorry for my friends that live here. Wish them blessed.”
Childress said she learned CPR from nursing school and one of the children is disabled.
“Right after people were scattering and running and it was pretty much just hysterical,” Childress said. “I really didn’t see anything other than somebody needing help, and that’s what I was trying to do.”
She said she saw four people shot and believed others were inside home.
“She was shot here in the chest, so we were applying pressure and another gentleman,” Childress said. “She was gasping for breath and all I knew was to try and keep performing CPR to keep her breathing, keep her heart rate up.”
Amerson’s best friend, Sharaven Clinton, went to Amerson’s home early Friday morning to be with the family.
“Most thing I’m going to miss about her is seeing her playing with her kids,” Clinton said. “Like, that’s all she ever cared about. And I know if I could give my life for hers, I would.”
Now, Clinton is searching for answers.
“She was innocent. All those people that got hurt was innocent,” Clinton said. “They don’t deserve that. Her kids don’t deserve to have no mama. Who wants to grow up without a mama? Who wants to have to remember that their mama passed away on their birthday? That’s something I would never want my child to grow up and have to deal with.”
Police are searching for one to three people they believe were responsible.
Singletary said the aftermath was chaos and he couldn’t get a good look at any suspects.
“Me and my nephew run out the door right here, people running all over the place, and they’re just wild,” Singletary said. “Just seen them run down the road there, and could see his face or nothing.”
Now, the community is left to grieve and pray.
“I think it’s really starting to hit that all of this really happened and I just felt that I could do more,” Childress said.