Louisville police announced that they arrested two suspects in the shooting death of Tyree Smith. The suspects, both juveniles, were arrested on Wednesday and charged with complicity to first-degree assault and complicity to murder. Police continue to investigate the crime and search for a possible motive.
In a press conference on Thursday, Chief Erika Shields announced the arrests and said, “We should not be standing here today. And we simply must do better as a community. To the family of Tyree Smith, I’m sorry we’re here, but hopefully in some small way the arrests of your son’s murderers will bring you some relief.”
The police department added that the two unnamed juveniles arrested were from Louisville and that officers were able to find them through their vehicle. According to reports, a stolen 2019 Jeep Cherokee that police believed to be involved in the shooting was found abandoned and burning at a St. Matthews apartment complex.
Shields stressed that police officers will continue to investigate the bus stop shooting until the two suspects face trial. The chief hinted that there may be other suspects still out there, explaining that, “I’m not saying we have everybody. I’m not saying we don’t have everybody.”
The horrific shooting occurred on Sept. 22 at around 6:30 a.m. The drive-by shooting left Tyree Smith dead and two other students injured. It happened at a bus stop at the corner of Dr. W.J. Hodge and West Chestnut streets in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky. The students were waiting for a school bus when a car drove up and began shooting.
According to reports, individuals inside the 2019 Jeep Cherokee opened fire before quickly speeding away. The two 14-year-olds sustained minor injuries and one refused medical treatment. Witnesses said that the bus was just minutes away from picking them up.
Mark Pence lived near the bus stop and woke up to the sounds of gun shots. The former Marine ran outside to help the injured children. He said, “I was in the Marines. I’m used to telling other soldiers and other people in the service, ‘You ain’t going to die. You’re going to be OK.’ This morning I had to tell a teenager, ‘You ain’t going to die. You’re going be OK’ – and I didn’t even know for sure, because there was one right there that was dead.”
After Tyree Smith’s death, many community members called for change and justice. The 16-year-old’s death marked the 145th homicide in Louisville in 2021. Tyree’s sister said the bus stop had been shot at multiple times this year, and that despite calls to Jefferson County Public Schools, nothing had ever been done about it.
Renee Murphy, a spokesperson for Jefferson County Public Schools, said they were aware of a prior report of shots fired near the bus stop, but never at the bus stop.
After the Sept. 22 shooting, community members gathered at the bus stop to mourn the death of Tyree Smith and fight for change. Smith’s mother, Sherita Smith, spoke about her son, saying, “My son left out of my door at 6:15. He called me at 6:18 and said, ‘Mama, I got shot,'” Smith told the crowd. “So, what am I supposed to do when I’m guiding my son down the right path, and he gets killed and hurt by senseless violence?”
Smith and other family members said that Smith had never got into trouble and that he worked three days a week while going to school. They said that the 16-year-old had a bright future ahead of him.
Other community members, like activist Kamal Wells, said that the Louisville community failed their children by allowing violence to plague their streets. She said that children should not be shooting other children and believes that the community should set up a system to protect their children at bus stops.
She said, “My personal objective is to try and get 50 men – 50 men – to be at 25 bus stops every morning and every evening,” Wells said. “The mothers have stepped up; they take the kids to school and everything in this community. That’s all I’m asking for, is 50 men to step up and be at the bus stops to protect the kids, because the kids shouldn’t be harmed.”
It is unclear if Wells’ idea was ever implemented. Police continue to investigate the crime and are asking anyone with information about the shooting death of Tyree Smith to come forward.