published Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Shootings leave mark in Chattanooga community

Shootings resulting in injury or death from 2011 to present date


In a mile-long area that connects Avondale and Bushtown neighborhoods, as many as 21 people have been shot in the last year ranging from Camden Street to Garfield Avenue near Dodson and North Orchard Knob avenues.

Feb. 18 — Domnick Sherrell, 17, is fatally shot in the 1300 block of North Orchard Knob. His girlfriend’s mother, Margaret Harris, is charged in the death.

* March 4 — Ronald Blackmon, Jr., 25, is shot in the head on Sheridan Avenue and later dies. Edward Ryals, Jr., 19, and Demetrius Bibbs, 19, have been charged.

* March 5 — Prandell Haynes, 20, is shot in the hand and a 3-year-old is shot in the leg at an apartment at 2300 Wilson St.

March 7 — A man is grazed from gunfire at 2302 Windsor St.

March 11 — A 16-year-old girl, Tadasha Pulliam, was grazed by a bullet in the 1100 block of Arlington Avenue when a group of about seven to eight males fired shots at a car driving by. Pulliam sustained an abrasion to her shoulder. She waited until March 14 to report the incident to a school resource officer at Brainerd High School.

*April 8 — A 23-year-old man sustained a gunshot wound to his left hamstring when man in a dark colored compact vehicle with a red door drove up to him in the 1700 block of Wilson Street and began talking to Tracy Long, Jr. Witnesses said Long said, “No,” and the gunman brandished what appeared to be a shot gun and fired as Long ran away.

* April 9 — Aaron Burton, 39, is shot numerous times in the head by an unknown assailant at his residence located at 2118 Windsor St.

* May 12—Anthony White, 28, is shot multiple times in the head in an alley off the 800 block of Roanoke Avenue.

May 13—(DOUBLE) Two men are wounded during a drive by shooting at 551 Dodson Ave. A 16-year-old male and 34-year-old Shalone Wingate were hit in the feet and thigh respectively as they tried to run for cover.

May 19—Herbert Strickland, 53, is shot in the head and killed at the Big K gas station at 909 Dodson Ave.

* June 1 — Darrius Townsend, 17, is shot and killed in the 900 block of Taylor Street. He was shot in the head and back.

* July 3—(TRIPLE) Melvin “Brando” Fennell, 25, was shot multiple times in the chest and killed while at his home at 818 B Arlington Ave. Calvin Garner, 24, and Mariah Stoudemire, 21, were wounded in the lower parts of their bodies.

July 10— Darien Houston was shot in the buttocks while standing in front of his mother’s home 1804 Wilcox Blvd. Houston said that he didn’t recall hearing any gunshots but did recall people in the area shooting fireworks. Police weren’t able to locate any evidence of a crime scene.

Sept. 2—47-year-old Dwana Dixson shot in the stomach and killed outside her apartment at 457 Dodson Ave.

Sept. 10 — Tara Rollins, 34, told police she was sitting on the front porch of an apartment at 2300 Wilson St. when she was shot in her leg. Her boyfriend was gone when police arrived on scene.

* Oct. 23 — (FIVE SHOT, 1LEFT DEAD) VanDaryl Rivers, 22, is shot in the head and killed while standing outside a residence at 1912 Walker Street. JerMichael Smith, 19, was shot in the neck and listed in critical condition. Daniel Smiley, 25, was shot in the wrist and transported in a personal vehicle. A 17-year-old and a 2-year-old were grazed by bullets.

Dec. 15 — A man was taken to a local emergency room after he was shot in the arm. The man told police he was shot while walking on North Orchard Knob Avenue.

Dec. 23 — Derrick Thomas, 31, was found with gunshot wounds to his side and upper abdomen. He told police he was standing in the area of 1903 Sharp Street when an acquaintance walked up and opened fire.

Dec. 30 — A 14-year-old was shot in the shoulder and told police he was walking with two women when two acquaintances came from behind the bushes and opened fire. Police were previously called to 2285 Wilcox Blvd. No one was there. The teen later showed up at Parkridge Medical Center.

2012 Shootings

Jan. 7 — Demarcus Husband, 23, is found by police lying dead in a yard at 862 N. Orchard Knob Ave. after he was shot in the face at about 7:30 p.m. The residence was riddled with bullets. A near-by residence at 1901 Rawlings St. was also shot up.

* Jan. 7 — Ronald Spence, 19, told police he was shot by an acquaintance at about 11:30 p.m. in the 2100 block of Camden Street. Spence said he was walking near Dodson Avenue when the gunman called out to him before opening fire. Spence was wounded in his left shoulder. A 16-year-old shooter was arrested within minutes of the shooting at an abandoned house at 2009 Camden St.

* connotes a gang-related shooting

Source: Reports and press releases from Chattanooga Police Department

It's not uncommon to hear about someone getting shot or killed in one Chattanooga neighborhood.

In the last year, as many as 21 shootings with injuries took place in a mile-long area from Camden Street to Garfield Avenue near Dodson and Orchard Knob avenues that connects the Avondale and Bushtown neighborhoods.

The first homicide of 2012 was there, too.

Remnants of tattered yellow crime scene tape mark fence posts from prior police calls. Clusters of stuffed animals and plastic flowers plunged into the earth show where someone drew his last breath after shots were fired.

The first casualty of the year was 23-year-old Demarcus Husband, who was shot once through the torso after an incident at 1901 Rawlings St., according to the Hamilton County medical examiner's report. Husband collapsed near a tree and died in the front yard at 862 N. Orchard Knob Ave.

Neighbors believe he may have been in the process of committing a robbery, but one resident remembered a kinder side of Husband.

"It sounded like a war out there," she said.

Before Husband fell to the ground, it appeared he dropped a gun near the front porch, which police found, she said.

Nine bullet holes still mar the beige vinyl siding of the home from last week's shooting. The arrangement of stuffed animals and a blue plastic spray of flowers marking the place he fell is one of several memorials in the neighborhood. "His mom brought him up to be a mindful boy," Vaughn said. "He got caught up in that gang stuff. That's all. I have a 17-year-old. I just hope he doesn't get caught up in that."

Of the 21 shootings from 2011, 10 resulted in death and at least eight were gang related, according to Chattanooga police.

Chattanooga police have not made any arrests in Husband's case. Investigators have not made public any possible motive.

"Anyone who has any information is urged to call said Chattanooga police Detective Mike Tilley, who is investigating Husband's death.

Husband was no stranger to firearms violence. He was wounded in a drive-by two years ago while walking near the Woodlawn apartments on Wilson Street. One of his hands was wounded. The medical examiner's report indicates he had scars on his right hand.

Husband had been convicted on robbery, assault and narcotics charges, according to local court records.

Facing up to gangs

In the past year, city and county officials have discussed implementing a Department of Justice plan to combat gangs and issues of youth violence. They hope to complete an assessment soon.

The gang program would link services, possibly at recreational centers, in hopes of preventing children who face adversity and have little family support from joining gangs.

"They need to do something to get all this crime and killing off the street," Vaughn said. "You have kids killing kids."

Eleven of the people involved in the 2011 shootings as either victims or gunmen were 19 years old or younger. The youngest was a 2-year-old boy who was grazed by a bullet.

Towanda Sherrell's 17-year-old son was one of last year's victims. Domnick Sherrell was killed Feb. 18, 2011, also on North Orchard Knob Avenue, when an argument broke out involving his girlfriend's family. Margaret Harris is charged in the death.

Asked about the high number of shootings, Sherrell said, "A lot of people have low self-esteem and feel they have nothing to live for."

Sherrell's mother lives across the street from Husband's mother on Hawthorne Street, just a block away from the slayings.

Residents said Husband's mother's home was shot up a couple of days before his death. She declined to comment Saturday.

Asked what would stop the shootings, Sherrell said residents need prevention programs and job opportunities. And, she said, judges need to impose stiffer penalties.

"They are giving the wrong time for the wrong crime," she said.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd agrees that tougher sentencing is needed to quell some of the ongoing violence.

Last week, an officer shot one of three suspects in a burglary who was wielding a handgun.

Jeremichael Nicholson, 20, shot someone when he was 17. He was sentenced to six years in prison, but he served just four months before his sentence was amended to probation by Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.

"Where's the deterrent in that?" Dodd said. "A lot of these people figure six months in prison is nothing. It does a lot for their reputation in the street. It doesn't hurt them being away from street that long."

While the city has a documented 1,100 gang members from as many as 44 gangs, Dodd said only a handful of members cause most of the problems.

"They are in and out of jail so much. If we had some true sentencing; and they served the sentence they had, then we would have less shootings," he said.

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