Home News Weekend shooting in downtown Chattanooga leaves six teens injured

Weekend shooting in downtown Chattanooga leaves six teens injured

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La Shawn Pagan

Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly and Police Chief Celeste Murphy held a joint news conference on Sunday to address the city after a mass shooting on Saturday evening asking parents to be more aware of where their children are at night and to keep guns out of their hands.

Kelly said that the shooting stemmed from a misunderstanding between young people.

“Six teenagers were shot last night and what we believe was an altercation between teenagers,” Kelly said. “Once again I’m standing here in front of you talking about our communities getting shot, that’s outrageous, and it has to stop.”

Kelly also said it was ridiculous he had to “publicly state that guns have no place in the hands of our kids.”

Six people were injured, and Murphy said “two of them are very, very critical.”

The shooting took place on the 100 block of Cherry Street just before 11 p.m. according to a news release by the Chattanooga Police, and authorities believe the shooting stemmed from a large group of young people — from teens to 20’s — who were in the area.

City curfew was addressed during the news conference, as well as Kelly and Murphy urging parents to be aware of where their children are at night.

“Knowing where your kids are at night, or reporting any activity is important,” Murphy said.

In October 2021 the City Council approved a curfew under which 17-year-olds would have to be at home or accompanied by an adult from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, and midnight to 6 a.m. during the weekends.

The curfew also states that 16-year-olds and under have a 10 p.m. curfew during the week, while during the weekends they can stay out until 11 p.m. According to police spokesperson Jeremy Eames, if the curfew is violated, citations are issued.

Murphy added that it would take parents to work with authorities to keep kids off the streets.

“That’s what’s gonna get us the most traction with that ordinance,” Murphy said.

Adding that after last year’s violence spree, most notably the Grove Street shootings that claimed the lives of two women and left five others injured, one as young as 14, it would take the community coming together to ensure that guns don’t end up in the wrong hands.

“Just educating people on the safety of using a weapon and the dangers of having a weapon,” Murphy said, “that’s really what it boils down to.”

Four people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while two were in critical condition. Murphy thanked those officers who quickly responded to the incident.

Murphy said that while there was a person of interest detained in connection with the shootings, that person has since been cleared and released.

“Investigators have reviewed all the videos and continue to look for more,” Murphy said. “The investigators worked all night chasing all available leads.”

According to Eames, violence so far this year has been lower than at this time last year.

” Chattanooga is actually considerably down in violence,” Eames said. “Even with last night and what happened earlier this week, for the year we’re actually in a much better place than we were this time last year, so we’re seeing good things happen.”

Murphy asked if anyone had any information about the shootings to call 423-643-5100 or submit a tip through the department’s new Atlas One app, stating that tips can be made anonymously.

Downtown reaction

The site of the crime was business as usual Sunday. Patrons ate ice cream outside the Ice Cream Show, enjoying live street music while others strolled across Walnut Bridge.

“You can’t live in fear,” said Velma Willis, a member of the jazz band Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie, as she was setting up to perform.

“I don’t know the real answer [to gun violence] except for homes, church, schools, law enforcement. All that has broken down a little bit and we need to do something to help build it all back up,” Willis said.

She and her band have played in that area, right outside the Ice Cream Show, four or five times before. After last night’s shooting, they wanted to bring some happiness.

“People are still out, people are still doing a lot. People are still doing a lot of things,” Willis said.

But not everyone felt as confident as Willis. Lynda Curtis, owner of the Ice Cream Show, said she had three employees who refused to come to work.

“I had an employee that was going to take trash down last night, just before it happened, he got delayed for some reason. And he won’t work today now because he’s terrified,” Curtis said.

Though Curtis wasn’t working at the shop when the incident occurred, she lives nearby.

She didn’t hear any shots but was awakened by her children after the shooting. She remembers seeing ambulance lights and hearing loud sirens.

“The world is in sad shape when 13- and 14-year-olds are out there with guns and killing other kids,” Curtis said.

She’s concerned how the shooting might affect business.

“I have several employees that don’t want to work today, won’t work tonight. Don’t maybe want to work the whole week,” she said, adding that holiday weekends are some of her biggest days. However, she said business was going well Sunday.

For her, the answer isn’t more gun control, but earlier curfews.

“I think that’s what it’s going to need, curfew. And there’s probably not enough police. But I wouldn’t mind it if at least one police were out here,” Curtis said.

Chattanooga resident Kim Nageotte, who lives in Walnut Commons apartments down the street from where the shooting occurred, agrees that a curfew is necessary.

“I think there should be a curfew or something,” Nageotte said. “Because it’s a lot of teenagers. And I think that’s what it was last night. But for residents, we want to feel safe. And this is our neighborhood even though it’s downtown. But people that come in to visit should be respectful of that,” Nageotte said.

After the shooting, Nageotte said she feels less safe.

“I don’t think it would slow me down much. But I will definitely be more aware of my surroundings. I’m already carrying mace and a Taser, but that doesn’t help when somebody has a gun. So I’m definitely more aware and I will not go into the big crowds, especially late at night when there are a bunch of people running around,” Nageotte said.

For her, the answer is gun control.

“I would just think that nobody needs those types of guns that aren’t in the military. I’m a big gun control person. And I don’t think that people should have such easy access to guns,” she said.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

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