published Monday, January 11th, 2010

Gang link suspected in Eastdale shootings

Business was brisk Sunday evening at Kanku's Citgo Station on the corner of Wilcox Avenue and Tunnel Boulevard, despite a shooting there the night before that left a customer dead and a passerby down the road injured when shooting broke out again a half mile away.

"We don't get into what happens out there, as long as they don't bring it inside," said a store worker who asked that his name not be used. "A lot of the people around here don't have any respect for anything or anybody."

On Sunday, Chattanooga police had arrested "one validated gang member," and were investigating to determine whether the series of related shootings were gang-related.

Police on Saturday night charged Montez Davis with first-degree murder, reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a firearm, according to police spokeswoman Jerri Weary.

Sgt. Weary said Mr. Davis "is a validated gang member," and he was shot last summer at a car wash about 700 feet from the scene of last night's shooting.

Sgt. Weary said officers were called to Kanku's convenience store just after 9:30 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived, they found 42-year-old Jonathan Lawrence, a customer who had been pumping gas into his car, dead on the parking lot. Sgt. Weary said he had been killed instantly by a bullet from Mr. Davis' weapon.

She said witnesses told police the incident began when Anthony Russell threw a bottle at a vehicle driven by Mr. Davis, breaking Mr. Davis' window.

Mr. Davis then circled the service station parking lot and began shooting at Mr. Russell and his friends, Sgt. Weary said.

Sgt. Weary said Mr. Lawrence had just arrived at the lot to get gas. Several other vehicles on the lot also were struck by bullets, she said.

Mr. Davis then sped away and went to his home at 1006 Tunnel Blvd. where another gunfight began after an unknown vehicle pulled up and shots were fired at Mr. Davis' home.

During an exchange of gunfire between the suspect vehicle and parties from Mr. Davis' home, 29-year-old Inah Garner was traveling north on Tunnel Boulevard when a bullet from the gunfight went through the driver's side window and hit Ms. Garner in the finger, Sgt. Weary said.

Ms. Garner then drove to the Kanku's convenience store parking lot where she informed police that she'd been shot, Sgt. Weary said.

Officers responding to both shootings and were able to locate and detain several witnesses and suspects to both incidents, Sgt. Weary said.

Investigators are continuing to try to identify the suspects who fired at Mr. Davis' home and determine the identity of the shooter who injured Ms. Garner.

More arrests are expected, Sgt. Weary said.

On Sunday afternoon, at another convenience store and service station across the street from the Eastdale neighborhood crime scene, Jay Patel said he wasn't working when the shooting occurred.

In fact, said Mr. Patel, Sunday was his first day at the station. The worker present when the shooting occurred had quit, he said.

"People have come in talking about it, and asking questions," he said. "But I don't know anything because I wasn't here."

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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