Waiting for two flat tires to be repaired was not how Austin Smith expected to spend his Sunday afternoon.
Smith, who is from Cleveland, Tenn., had just pulled into the parking lot of his church, Redemption Point, when he noticed one of his tires was low on air.
"I figured I would deal with it when I got out of church," he said. "But when I got out two tires were completely flat on the same side."
At least a dozen customers at the National Tire & Battery Auto Center on Rossville Boulevard were in a similar situation to Smith -- waiting to have multiple flat tires repaired after driving on Dodds Avenue on Saturday night and Sunday.
Jarami Rollen found all four of his truck tires flat after driving down Dodds Avenue late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
"I didn't know what happened," he said. "The lady here asked me if I had gone down Dodds. She said that's why everyone was here."
At 3:30 p.m., the parking lot of National Tire & Battery was almost completely full of customers. Rollen and his grandfather, Harold Guffey, had been waiting for about two hours for the four tires to be repaired.
Sandra Radant was pulling into the Chattanooga Market when she noticed her "Low Tire" light was illuminated. When she returned to her car, her two passenger-side tires were flat, and she called AAA for a tow.
"There's not much you can do when both are flat," Radant said.
Store employees told Radant about 60 people had called about flat tires Sunday, and Radant said she expected more would come.
"When I left [the Chattanooga Market], there were several cars with flat tires too," she said. "There were people that probably didn't know they had flats yet."
No one is sure what caused the rash of flat tires.
Guffey, Rollen's grandfather, said he heard from store employees that the flats may have been caused by spikes in the road that were left over from a police pursuit Saturday night. National Tire & Battery personnel declined to comment.
However, Officer Nathan Hartwig, Chattanooga Police spokesman, said there was not a police pursuit in the area Saturday night.
Chattanooga Police dispatchers confirmed they received multiple calls about flat tires on civilian and police vehicles, but did not know if the flats were caused by a particular incident.
Assistant Police Chief Randy Dunn said there were reports of tires getting flattened in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Dodds Avenue, including a couple of police patrol cars.
"Looks like someone was throwing out or spilled [roofing] tacks," he said in a text message sent to other administrators at the department.
A Chattanooga public works employee showed up at National Tire & Battery on Sunday afternoon. He wouldn't give his name, but said he was trying to figure out where people who'd had flats had been driving.
For many, the flats were a costly annoyance.
Rollen said he expected to spend about $24 per tire for the repairs -- money he would normally use for gas. Smith planned to spend his afternoon running errands and returning home to Cleveland before he had to come back to Chattanooga for a second church service Sunday night.
"There's lots of other things I'd rather be doing," he said. "It's not the end of the world, but it's certainly inconvenient."
Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...