MEMPHIS, Tenn. – People are fed up with crime in Memphis, but one man is so tired of everything that he is moving. WREG spoke with the business owner, who said it was the only solution for him.
Stephen Conn recalls the things that brought him to Memphis in 2001.
“When I was growing up, my family used to visit here. I loved Memphis,” Conn said. “Memphis was laid back, and I like music and I’m alone. I like going out. And Memphis just fits all those criteria.”
This is why he started and developed his medical testing business outside of American Way.
“The climate in Memphis was great for nurturing and growing what we were doing,” Conn said.
Over the years, he said, things have changed.
“The first time I got robbed was actually behind the counter where there was a gun involved and some kid with a hood and a mask on his head,” Conn said. “I could see the barrel of this gun right in my face. I mean, he wouldn’t have missed if he had pulled the trigger.”
This happened in 2007. In 2012, Conn became the victim of another crime.
“I went out to get something out of my car and there was a guy right behind one of these poles just waiting for me, he grabbed me from behind and I could feel that he had a gun in his waistband, and I could feel the gun,” Conn said. .
A year later, a similar attack took place.
“And so at that point it became a bit numerous. Then I had family and friends, mostly family, who said dad, you’ve got to get out of there, get out of that location, get out of that place,” he said.
He stayed and set up additional security. However, the crime did not stop.
“[I] had two more this summer. And that was just a turning point for me,” Conn said. “The guy knocked me down here in the parking lot and was just yelling at me with his fists. And I was convinced that the next thing he was going to do was pull a gun or a knife.”
After 22 years, he leaves Memphis for Franklin, Tennessee.
“I had to do something to get me out of the line of fire, so to speak,” Conn said.
He said he’s seen too many cases of innocent people who try to help the city become victims, like former Chamber leader Phil Trenary.
“He was the guy who was assigned to promote Memphis and he was shot and killed one Friday night. I’m walking home,” Conn said.
Those pushing Memphis as a great place to live and visit don’t want people to give up.
On WREG Live at 9, Convention and Visitors Bureau President Kevin Kane talked about the impact that crime can have.
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“People will eventually make other decisions. Fortunately, they haven’t done that yet,” Kane said.
Conn made his choice. He’s just hoping Memphis clears up.
“It would be nice to think that Memphis could return to all the cultural benefits and aspects that made me move here back then, honestly, the music, the food, the climate,” Conn said.
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