Community Metro Louisville

Investigators with the Louisville Metro Police Department announced Thursday that they have arrested two juveniles, both 16, for the killing of Tyree Smith.

Tyree, 16, was shot and killed in September while waiting for a school bus to Eastern High School. Two other teenagers were also injured in the shooting, which occurred at the intersection of Dr. W.J. Hodge and West Chestnut Streets in the Russell neighborhood. 

Twenty-three children under the age of 18 have been killed in Louisville so far this year, according to police data. Six homicide suspects, not including the two in this case, have been between the ages of 11 and 17. 

LMPD Chief Erika Shields said at a press conference Thursday morning that she hopes the arrests will bring “a morsel of relief” to Tyree’s family.

“This case, as we all know, is truly horrific,” Shields said. “Tyree is an all-star student and he was doing everything we ask of kids … We should not be standing here today and we simply must do better as a community.”

Because the two people charged in Tyree’s death are juveniles, police are not releasing their names. LMPD Lt. Donny Burbrink said the department will only provide limited information about the case.

Jess Clark

A collage of photos included in Tyree Smith’s funeral program.

Burbrink said both suspects were taken into custody Wednesday and face multiple charges, including complicity to murder, first degree complicity to assault and second degree complicity to assault.

“While we are happy to provide Tyree’s family with answers, our work is nowhere near complete,” he said. “Though we’ve made an arrest, this case, along with every other homicide case we have, is still being actively investigated.”

Police say 168 people have been killed in Louisville so far this year, many by gun violence. They’ve cleared a little more than a third of those cases.

Burbrink said both suspects are also Jefferson County Public School students. He said in-school security officers assisted in the case, but would not say what kind of information they shared. 

Shields’ comments about school resource officers following Tyree’s death sparked renewed conversations in Louisville about the role of police in schools. 

Emily Lantz, an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, said Thursday that the office is still very early in the process of determining whether the two 16-year-old suspects will be tried as adults. Lantz said charging juveniles as adults is no longer automatic in cases with serious charges such as these due to recent changes to state law. The County Attorney’s Office would need to make a recommendation to try the suspects as adults, and the final decision will be up to the judge and a grand jury.

Tyree’s mother, Sherita Smith, is expected to address the media Friday morning at the bus stop where the shooting occurred. 

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.