published Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Dodds Avenue shooting death puts bull's-eye on event halls

Chattanooga Police Crime Scene Investigators gather at the scene Friday following an early morning shooting that left one dead and one injured in the 1700 block of Dodds Avenue.
Chattanooga Police Crime Scene Investigators gather at the scene Friday following an early morning shooting that left one dead and one injured in the 1700 block of Dodds Avenue.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Before bullets began to fly a man screamed in anger.

"I'll kill the [expletive,]" a Dodds Avenue resident recalled hearing just before 10 to 15 rounds of gunfire followed early Friday.

The hail of bullets sent two men to the hospital. One died.

Officers lingered on the street Friday morning, documenting shell casings and other evidence.

The shooting death is the latest violence that has taken place near event halls on the east side of Chattanooga.

One resident wasn't surprised that someone was killed, though.

"There's loud music. There's gunfire. There's yelling. There's cars that speed down the streets. Sometimes the parties go until 5 a.m.," said the man, who declined to give his name out of fear of retaliation.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot at Emotions Event Hall, 1622 Dodds Ave., also called "Da Building." It is owned by Dexter Staples, business records show. The name was changed in April from AGM Event Hall.

"We've never had this kind of situation," Staples said in a phone interview. "The place was actually closed when the shooting happened. It was a private birthday party."

Ladarius Daniel, 21, died of his wounds. The second victim has been identified as Dedrick Hall, 32, who is in stable condition.

This is the fourth shooting near an event hall this year. Police responded to the call at 4:50 a.m.

On April 2, 28-year-old Desmond McClure was shot to death outside 2510 E. Main St. at another event hall just a few blocks away from Emotions.

On June 11, 31-year-old Dejuan Stinson was shot outside the same location on East Main Street.

And four people were shot, leaving one dead, who were going to the event hall on East Main Street on June 23.

"We do have problems from time to time with almost every event hall, some more than others," Chattanooga police Chief Bobby Dodd said.

A list of police calls to both event hall locations was not immediately available Friday.

Staples said the occupancy for the building is 95. He said he only rents the space to people who are over the age of 25.

He said security -- sometimes armed -- is required. People must go through checkpoints before entering.

"I don't care if you're a minister having an anniversary party," Staples said.

However, there was no armed security the night of the shooting, and the party was over by about 2:30 a.m., he said.

"The police department has been in here. The beer board has been in here. ... Everyone has been in here before," Staples said. "I try to stay within the law as far as permits go. I try to keep my people [for parties] within 50 people now."

Staples is not required to obtain a beer or liquor license. Whoever rents the space can purchase up to three cases of beer, or 72 beers, for their event, he said.

Dodd said because there aren't any requirements for beer or liquor licenses, it makes it more difficult to regulate event halls.

"If and when there are enough serious calls for service fights, disorders, aggravated assaults or murders, we can address the location through the nuisance abatement process," Dodd said. "Until such time the Chattanooga Police Department has to spend a great deal of our time and resources baby-sitting grown people who should otherwise be able to attend an event without violence. Unfortunately, we have gang members or associates that attend events like these just to create problems."

Lacie Stone, spokeswoman for Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, said it's an issue the mayor is examining.

"We have been looking into this and are weighing our options," she said.

As of Friday, the city had 70 shooting incidents with 87 victims for the year, according to the Chattanooga Police Department. That number includes 10 homicide victims who died due to gun violence. During the same time last year, there were 48 shootings with 55 victims, including eight homicides due to gun violence, police said.

As of Friday evening, no arrest had been made in the Dodds Avenue shootings. Anyone with information is asked to call Chattanooga police at 698-2525.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@times freepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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