Police work the scene where Phil Trenary was killed Thursday night. (Photo: Johnathan Martin); (Phil Trenary: Courtesy photo)

Beautiful fall weather served as the backdrop Thursday night as people were moving about outside in various sections of Downtown Memphis when a sound out of character with that scenario jarred those who heard it.


Philip H. Trenary, the Greater Memphis Chamber’s president and chief executive officer, was shot dead on the east side of the sidewalk in the 500 block of South Front St. about 8 p.m.

“I heard it. Then my phone blew up,” said Gwyn R. Fisher, who lives nearby. She’s the regional director of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

“Memphis Chamber held their 4-mile race tonight. It was based at Loflin Yard,” said Fisher, as she and others waited behind crime-scene tape. “He would have been in athletic attire.”

Trenary, the former CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, lived Downtown.

The Memphis Police Department issued this statement: “The suspect responsible is described as a male Black with dreadlocks wearing a blue shirt who was in a white 4-dr F150.”

Anyone with information is asked to Crime Stoppers @ 901-528-CASH.

“It breaks my heart for the city,” Fisher said. “We’re devastated. … He was one of the most valued economic development partners that we have in the state of Tennessee.”

Another resident of the area said a muffled sound drew his attention but did not immediately register with him as a gunshot. When he walked outside, he could see a body lying on the sidewalk across the street. Police arrived within minutes, he said.

“Like many of you, I’m shocked at the senseless loss tonight of Phil Trenary, a leader in our community,” Mayor Jim Strickland tweeted. “More than anything in these hours, my thoughts are with his family and his Chamber colleagues. I’m in close contact with MPD, which is leading a thorough investigation.”

J.T. Young, MLGW President and CEO, said Trenary was one of the first business leaders to reach out and welcome him when he arrived in Memphis.

“His love for Memphis and our business community was immeasurable,” Young said in a distributed statement. “The loss of this giant business leader will be  very difficult for our community to overcome. Phil’s death was tragic, senseless and a painful loss.”