Small children played near the doorways of brick housing units on Cypress Street Court just before rain began to fall Wednesday afternoon.
Their mothers stood nearby, watching intently.
The College Hill Courts public housing development has been the site of two shootings just this week and four this year.
A shooting Sunday resulted in the death of 20-year-old Cecil Timmons. No arrests have been made. On Monday night, 26-year-old Delandus Pound was shot in the upper shoulder.
“I want to move — bad,” said Willacia Linder, 19, as her 2-year-old son played.
Latonya Moore, 20, standing one door down from Linder, said she was near when Timmons was killed. She said people were hanging out after watching the Riverbend Festival fireworks Saturday night.
Witnesses said men got out of a white car, and at least one fired into a crowd standing outside.
“[Timmons] didn’t know he got shot,” she said. “He just tipped up on his side. One of his friends picked him up and took him inside the house and laid him on his stomach. The police came in there and flipped him over. He was dead.”
Moore said there are reports that the bullet wasn’t meant for Timmons.
“It was meant for someone else. They just fired into the crowd,” she said.
Linder said Timmons didn’t live at College Hill Courts but often hung out there.
“He was cool. I used to see him here all the time. He didn’t seem like a troublemaker. I don’t think he should have lost his life,” she said.
Chattanooga Housing Authority Public Safety Chief Felix Vess patrolled College Hill Courts on Wednesday looking for cars and people who were out of place.
He said most of the trouble comes from outside the development.
“This is the first murder we’ve had in over a year in College Hill. Right now we’re just trying our best to try and stop it again,” he said.
“Seventy percent of the problems are caused by people who don’t live here,” Vess said. “A majority of people who live here are good residents.”
He said the recent violence reflects a citywide gang problem.
Doris Conner, former president of the College Hill Courts resident association, said closing the Harriet Tubman development means putting gang members side by side.
“They’ve got the Crips and the Bloods out here. One is blue and one is red,” Conner said.
“It’s just terrible,” she said. “These young people have no morals. They have no respect. They may speak, but don’t say too much because they may cuss you out. I see the police. I hear the shooting. But I don’t get involved because the police can’t protect you.”
All of the shootings this year in College Hill have happened near the 1200 block of Cypress Street Court.
On March 6, Darrell Paris, 22, was shot in the abdomen with a sawed-off shotgun at 1329 Cypress Street Court, records show.
On March 21, gunfire broke out in the 1200 block of Cypress Street Court. Injured were Marcel Hawthorne, 22; Eric McMath, 20; and 18-year-old Jermichael Powell.
Linder said residents live in fear. When the sun goes down, residents get scared, she said.
“I’m scared to bring my kid out to play,” Linder said. “Bullets don’t have eyes, so wherever you shoot it could hit anybody.”
Conner said many residents have come to her worried about the violence.
“I told them all we can do is pray,” she said.
Staff writer Yolanda Putnam contributed to this story.
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