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Tremaine Wilbourne’s surrender: ‘It worked out’

As the pastor of Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church, the Rev. Ralph White is accustomed to allowing God to lead him where he is supposed to be and guide him in doing the “Lord’s will.”

Such was the case again this week.

White, who also is chairman of the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board, played a key role in helping then-fugitive Tremaine Wilbourn turn himself in connection with the killing of Memphis Police Department Officer Sean Bolton on Saturday night.

“I don’t know if we actually saved his life,” White told photojournalist George Tillman Jr. of The New Tri-State Defender on Tuesday. “But we didn’t know what might develop as a result of him doing it any other way.”

Wilbourn showed up at the Federal Building downtown late Monday afternoon with his attorney, surrendered to U.S. Marshals and ended an intense hunt that had garnered national media attention. Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said the White House had reached out, offering to do whatever it could as the hunt for Wilbourn unfolded.

Wilbourn, 29, is set to appear in court on Wednesday. At the time of the shooting, he was on parole from a 121-month sentence for robbing a banking institution.

“He is safe now and sad to say we had to turn another young black man in. But he did the crime … At least we showed him compassion; showed him that we were concerned about him and had his best interest at heart,” said White, who spoke outside of the church he pastors at 123 South Parkway West.

Bolton was on one-man patrol when he spotted a 2002 Mercedes illegally parked in the 4800 block of Summerland. Police have said he apparently interrupted a drug deal. Wilbourn was a passenger in the car. A physical encounter between Wilbourn and Bolton took place outside of the car and it ended with Bolton shot multiple times with a gun that Wilbourn reportedly was carrying.

White said he and others would continue to reach out to Wilbourn.

“We will be visiting him and try to minister to him and see if we can take him to the next level, whatever that might be,” said White.

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