MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — More information was released Tuesday afternoon in the deadly shooting of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital employee Alexander Bulakhov during a robbery in downtown Memphis.
According to police, Bulakhov was walking with his wife and 2-year-old child on Tennessee Street on Sunday evening when he was approached by a man wearing a hoodie.
The man pointed a gun and demanded property, and Bulakhov gave the man his wallet, police said. The suspect then turned to Bulakhov’s wife and demanded more property.
That’s when police say Bulakhov wrestled with the man over the gun in an attempt to defend his wife. Bulakhov was shot during the struggle.
Investigators reviewed video footage showing a white Toyota Camry with a missing bumper and damage to a door and rear window making an erratic u-turn in the area just before the robbery. Police believe the people inside were looking for victims.
On Monday, police traced the Camry to an apartment complex on Whitney in Frayser. When they got there, they say Brandy Rucker and Marious Ward were about to drive away when police stopped them.
Police said Rucker admitted to driving the Camry while Ward got out on Tennessee Street. Ward admitted to being the gunman in Bulakhov’s robbery and death.
Ward had a 9mm gun in his waistband when he was arrested. Police say it was the same weapon used in the shooting.
Both Rucker and Ward are in jail, facing charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery, and attempted murder and robbery.
St. Jude confirmed in a statement that the victim was a member of the St. Jude community but declined to provide further details.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a valued member of the St. Jude community. Our thoughts are with Alexander’s family and we are working to support them during this difficult time,” St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital said in a statement.
A LinkedIn profile with the name Alexander Bulakhov showed he was a Post-Doctoral Researcher at St. Jude Hospital. He had only worked at the hospital since July, having moved from Brooklyn, where he worked for the State University of New York.
Neither Ward nor Rucker had previous charges listed in a Shelby County criminal database, other than a traffic ticket. Juvenile Court said it had no previous delinquency record on either suspect.
Mayor Jim Strickland said he was devastated by yet another senseless tragedy in Memphis, where this year’s homicide numbers are far outpacing last year’s.
“My heart was broken. And then obviously I prayed for the family immediately,” Strickland said.
At an event Tuesday, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said her reaction to this tragedy is similar to her reaction to shootings MPD responds to every single day.
“Very, very sad that our community members can’t walk in their communities and feel safe,” she said. “Too many senseless shootings in our city.”
Downtown Memphis Commission President and Mayor-Elect Paul Young released the following statement Tuesday evening:
“I am appalled and saddened by the events of this weekend and the senseless murder of Alexander Bulakhov. Today, I am a Memphian, a father, a husband, and a parent first. Today, I am just like you. I feel the anger, frustration, and grief that has enveloped our community. And even though the suspects have been arrested and charged, this will not change the outcome of this tragedy. My heart goes out to his family and the families of all of those impacted by violence in our community. My prayers are with them.
As DMC president and mayor-elect, I can assure you that I am in regular communication with MPD. I can also state that my transition team is working on a hard-hitting crime plan that will launch within our administration’s first 100 days. We will develop the strategy with MPD and will convene those needed to combat this lawlessness, including key community partners and members of the justice system. Crime is, unfortunately, an American problem, not specific to Memphis, and it’s going to take a multi-pronged, hard-hitting, and focused effort to turn it around. We are ready.”