City apparently has ‘no written procedures’ for notifying schools of nearby shootings, official says
By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
The suspect in a Wednesday shooting that occurred less than one mile from Corinth Elementary School had been arrested two weeks before by Corinth Police on a charge of felon in possession of a weapon, according to police.
Sammie Turnage, 26, is the suspect in the shooting that occurred Wednesday at about 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of Wick and Young streets.
Turnage was arrested Oct. 17 at his place of employment in Corinth after he was allegedly seen possessing a gun as a convicted felon, according to the police incident report obtained by Corinth Today.
The report states that Turnage was “playing” with a gun at the plant where he worked and that 911 was called. Police arrived and spoke with the plant manager and Turnage, and the handgun was found inside a backpack.
After his arrest, Turnage posted a $5,000 bond to be released from jail, but was back in police custody this week.
Turnage turned himself in to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday afternoon in regard to the Wednesday shooting. The victim, Demarcus Tipler, was listed in critical condition on Thursday at Regional One Health in Memphis.
It remains unclear if Corinth Elementary School was formally notified of the shooting soon after it happened.
Corinth Today filed a written request with the city of Corinth on Thursday seeking a copy of a policy in regard to police notifying schools if a shooting occurs near a school.
City Clerk Vickie Road responded via email, saying, “It is my understanding there is no written procedures; however, there are procedures in place by the Corinth Police Department and the Corinth School District in the event of various emergency conditions, which Chief (Ralph) Dance will be able to address.”
Chief Dance told Corinth Today on Friday that the police department notifies the schools if it is deemed necessary. But it is unclear if there was a notification in this case. However, Dance said the schools were not in any danger.
Corinth School District Superintendent Dr. Lee Childress has not returned phone calls and messages seeking comment on the matter.
After the shooting on Wednesday, law enforcement, including the police SWAT team, canvassed the area for hours. Dance said it was not known immediately after the shooting that Turnage was the suspect. Dance did not recall at what point Wednesday Turnage was identified as a suspect.
Turnage was still at-large on Thursday afternoon until he turned himself into the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office. That means he was still being sought by authorities on Halloween night as children and parents were trick-or-treating throughout Corinth.
Corinth Mayor Tommy Irwin said Friday morning that he did not know that Turnage was arrested about two weeks before the shooting on a felon in possession of a weapon charge. However, Irwin said he felt that it was fine for families to be out trick-or-treating Wednesday night while the suspect was at-large.
He said he has since learned that the suspect was out of the Corinth area at the time trick-or-treating was taking place. Irwin said it would have been a police department decision on whether families should be notified. He also noted that the schools and police work closely together “as far as I’ve seen.”
Many people in the United States feel that the government should think for them, Irwin said. But he said common sense tells him that if a shooting happened in a certain area that people would likely avoid that street while trick-or-treating. Likewise, he said that many people already know what is going on without government notification due to social media.