The ex-con accused of killing a Memphis police officer has turned himself into federal authorities, ending an intensive two-day manhunt.
Tremaine Wilbourn turned himself over on Monday night with his family by his side. A warrant had been issued Sunday for his arrest on a charge of first-degree murder.
Wilbourn told Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong after turning himself in: ‘One, I’m not a cold-blooded killer. And two, I am not a coward.’
Armstrong had said of Wilbourn on Sunday: ‘I think it’s safe to say that when you look at this individual, you’re looking at a coward. He’s a coward.’
Armstrong thanked the public for their help during the two-day manhunt, saying; ‘This has been an exhausting search.
‘We’ve always been one step behind him, but he felt the walls closing in and thought it was in his best interest to turn himself in. ‘
Wilbourn, a convicted bank robber, is accused of shooting Officer Sean Bolton, 33, Saturday night when the policeman interrupted a drug deal in a Mercedes-Benz.
Armstrong said Wilbourn was a passenger in the car, which was parked illegally in a southeast Memphis neighborhood on Saturday night.
Armstrong said Bolton saw the car and shined his squad car’s spotlight on it. Bolton then got out of his car and walked toward the Mercedes.
Wilbourn got out of the Mercedes, confronted Bolton, and they got into a physical struggle, according to Armstrong.
Wilbourn then took out a gun and fired it, striking Bolton multiple times, Armstrong said. Wilbourn and the driver then ran away, Armstrong said.
The driver later turned himself in to police and was initially described as a person of interest in the case. He was eventually released without being charged.
Armstrong said the drug transaction in question amounted to ‘less than two grams of marijuana.’
He went on to say; ‘You gun down, you murder a police officer for less than two grams of marijuana. You’ve literally destroyed a family.
‘Look at the impact that that’s had on this department, this community, this city, for less than two grams of marijuana.’
He closed by saying on Sunday; ‘Last night, we lost not only an officer, but a great man, a dedicated servant to our community and a family member.’
Armstrong said Wilbourn was on supervised release after being convicted of a bank robbery in June 2005 and sentenced to 121 months in a federal prison.
He was let out on probation on July 1, 2014.
He then violated his probation by testing positive for marijuana on December 22.
Bolton is the third Memphis officer to be fatally shot in slightly more than four years.
Officer Tim Warren was killed while responding to a shooting at a downtown Memphis hotel in July 2011.
In December 2012, Officer Martoiya Lang was killed while serving a warrant.
Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. said Bolton’s death ‘speaks volumes about the inherent danger of police work’ and asked others to ‘pray for the family and pray for our city.’
During past police shootings, both Wharton and Armstrong have said too many violent criminals are out on the street and have easy access to guns.
‘The men and women in blue have certain rules of engagement that they have to follow, but at any given minute in a 24-hour day they’re dealing with folks who have no rules of engagement,’ Wharton said.
Bolton was a former U.S. Marine and served a tour of duty in Iraq, police said. He joined the department in 2010.
Jason Mendoza, a minister at Woodland Presbyterian Church, said Bolton served as the best man at the wedding of his brother, Brian Bolton, this summer.
Church member Pam Haley said Bolton’s father died about a month ago. Brian is a member of the church.
During the church’s morning service, Mendoza asked worshippers to pray for the Bolton family.
‘Lord, lift up Brian and his family,’ said Mendoza.
A vigil has been planned in Bolton’s honor on Tuesday afternoon outside Memphis City Hall.
‘At the end of the day it’s not about who got him, but that its over, for now,’ the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said in a message on Facebook.
‘Now we hope Officer Bolton can truly rest, that his family can begin to grieve, and that as a community we can all begin to heal.
‘To our brothers and sisters in Blue, we stand with you and are always here to help!’