It was a pretty typical Friday night. Three teen friends were hanging out, ready to enjoy the weekend. They stopped at a Whitehaven gas station. It would be their last time together.
According to the Memphis Police Department, officers made a 9:35 p.m. response to a 911 call on Dec. 3, reporting that shots had been fired, and there were multiple victims on the scene.
Four victims, sitting at the pump in a red Infiniti, were hit when gunshots rang out at the Marathon gas station on Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Witnesses told police that the shooter was riding in a dark blue Nissan Maxima that pulled up next to the Infiniti. Rapid gunfire sprayed the vehicle before the Maxima sped off.
An outpouring of grief and expressions of sympathy flooded social media outlets as news quickly spread that Wooddale High School cheerleader Breuna Woods, 16, and Hamilton High School sophomore Phillexus Buchanan, known by friends and loved ones as “Lexus,”15, had been killed in the attack. A third teen and her 9-month-old son also were hit. Both were rushed to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital with non-critical injuries.
Police said the girls had just left a basketball game between Wooddale and Whitehaven High Schools.
The suspect’s vehicle was recovered, but it is still unclear what, if anything, transpired prior to the shooting. The investigation is ongoing as police try to piece together a timeline of events leading up to the teens’ deaths.
According to MPD public information officer Sgt. Louis Brownlee, there have been 315 homicides this year, a number closing in on 2020’s record-breaking 332 homicides.
Brownlee said that 29 of this year’s homicide victims were children under the age of 18.
Buchanan was tearfully remembered on Monday (Dec. 6) as friends and loved ones gathered across from Hamilton High School for a balloon release in her honor.
Shelby County Schools released a statement acknowledging the passing of Woods and Buchanan, but declined to share any other personal information about them. SCS joined others in expressing “deepest condolences” to the families. Grief counselors are available for both students and staff, the statement said.
Porsha Woods, mother of Breuna Woods, posted on her Facebook page that a candlelight vigil is scheduled for Thursday (Dec.9) for her daughter on the river front by the Bass Pro Shop, The Pyramid. According to Woods’ Facebook page, she lives in New York City’s Brooklyn.
A Facebook post from the Wooddale Cardinals said:
“On Friday night, Wooddale High School suffered a tremendous loss within our family. A senseless act of violence took the life of our student-athlete, Breuna Woods. Breuna was a gentle individual that performed exceptionally well within the classroom and on the court. Everyday, she embraced us with her smile and fashion. As we all try to cope with this heartbreaking pain, please continue to pray for her family.”
Veronica Billingsley, a teacher at Oakhaven High School, posted: “Oakhaven stands with Wooddale. We are praying for you all…”
Tonya Dockins, Buchanan’s aunt, organized the balloon release and appealed to the young people gathered there to “put the guns down.”
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 9:30 a.m., for Phillexus Buchanan at Serenity Funeral Home, 1638 Sycamore View Rd.