Memphis Zoo, museums offer residents free admission after recent tragedies

A number of local attractions in Memphis are offering free admission Friday to help residents cope and recover from the recent tragedies that have rocked the city.

The free offerings come two days after a mad gunman killed four people and injured three others in a series of random shootings in Memphis — and three days after the body of slain Tennessee heiress and teacher Eliza Fletcher was identified.

The shocking attacks have left many people in Memphis reeling.

“People in our city have faced the kind of violence that no one should face,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said at a midnight news conference following Wednesday’s shooting.

A local reporter for NBC affiliate Memphis broke down while covering Wednesday night’s shooting allegedly carried out by 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly.

Ezekiel Kelly, 19, is accused of killing four people and injuring three others in a series of shootings - one of which he broadcast live on Facebook - in Memphis on Wednesday.
Ezekiel Kelly, 19, is accused of killing four people and injuring three others in a series of shootings – one of which he live-streamed on Facebook – in Memphis on Wednesday.

WMC Actions News 5 reporter Joyce Peterson choked after warning the public to take shelter on the spot while Kelly remained at large.

“Memphis is tired right now. Yes, I’m fine, I’m with you all. Memphis is tired right now,” Peterson said after gathering herself. “The kidnapping and kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher, the other crimes that we’ve had this year — it’s difficult right now.”

“Have it with me. It’s been a very nerve-wracking night, it’s been a very difficult week,” she added. “You will find this guy. Until they do, stay indoors.”

Kelly, who had a criminal record and included attempted murder in the first degree, was arrested around 9:30 p.m. local time, ending his alleged killing spree that began just before 1 a.m

Many local stations have brought therapy dogs to help reporters deal with the violence they covered this week Twitter posts.

Five cultural attractions are opening their doors to the general public, free of charge, to encourage Memphis residents to take a moment to free their minds from recent violence.

Memphis Botanical Garden
The Memphis Botanic Gardens invited locals to the gardens for a free Friday “for an opportunity to heal in nature.”
Memphis Botanical Garden/Facebook

The Memphis Zoo, Memphis Botanic Gardens, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Museum of Science & History and Lichterman Nature Center are offering free admission on Friday, September 9th.

“In light of the recent tragedies that have struck our city, we want to provide a place to reflect and relax, even if it’s just for a moment,” the Memphis Zoo said.

Likewise, the Memphis Botanic Gardens invited locals to the gardens “to heal in nature.”

Memphis Parks director Nick Walker tweeted that free entry to Memphians “fills my heart with so much joy.”

“Don’t let evil win,” Walker said. “Celebrate the city we all love!”

Memphis residents have also organized memorial services for the victims of Wednesday’s shootings, as well as for Fletcher.

Eliza Fletcher was abducted while jogging at 4am last Friday and later killed.

Local church leaders held a prayer service Thursday outside the AutoZone store where Rodolfo Berger was shot and seriously injured by Kelly, who was live-streamed as he opened fire at the store.

More than 1,400 runners are expected to attend a run in memory of Fletcher on Friday. Runners will complete the morning jog Fletcher, an avid runner, couldn’t finish last week after being kidnapped and allegedly murdered by Cleotha Abston.

West Memphis will also honor shot dead victim Allison Parker, a hospital worker who was reportedly killed by Kelly in front of her daughter, at a vigil at West Memphis City Hall Friday night.

Memphis Mayor Strickland reflected on the violence that sent shockwaves through the city Wednesday night.

“This has been a painful week in our city, but I have hope for Memphis, I have love for Memphis, I know that united…we will persevere,” he said. Memphis Zoo, museums offer residents free admission after recent tragedies


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