published Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Weekend shooting stirring concerns

Audio clip

911 audio from Coolidge shooting

Standing just a few hundred feet from where weekend gunfire wounded five and sent crowds fleeing in panic from Coolidge Park, Mayor Ron Littlefield told reporters that, "It's time for this to stop."

Flanked by Police Chief Freeman Cooper, other city department heads and police, the mayor said the impromptu gathering of 200 to 250 people in the park started peacefully through text messaging and social media such as Facebook. Known as a "flash mob," the event ended in violence "because one person foolishly had a gun and decided to use it," he said.

At about 9:45 p.m. Saturday, as five police officers broke up a crowd of people that was getting rowdy, shots rang out on River Street, next to the park. Two adults and one juvenile were arrested and charged in the shooting that wounded three adults and two juveniles.

At the news conference, Chief Cooper said investigators do not believe this is a gang-related incident and he noted that this is only the third violent incident at the park in six years.

Police bike patrols and vehicle patrols in the downtown zone, which includes parts of the North Shore, including Coolidge Park, and the Riverfront, will increase to summertime numbers this weekend, he said. In the downtown zone, between six and eight officers patrol the area and more respond if there is a disturbance, he said.

Security cameras ring the park and evidence from those recordings will be used to prosecute suspects, officials said.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Chattanooga police Lt. Eric Tucker, left, and Officer Benny Condra discuss the events Saturday night after a multiple shooting near Coolidge Park on Saturday.

Curt Lamberth, who manages Rock/Creek Down Under, located across from the park, said he's seen a buildup of crowds at the park and on the Walnut Street Bridge since last summer.

"It shifts," he said. "The scene here after closing hours and the sun goes down, you're kind of in some dark corners and you don't really trust it."

Emily Mitchell, who works at Sushi Nabe on River Street, said the owner ensures that employees have someone to walk them to their cars after closing time.

"I think it's fairly safe around here, but you always need to be cautious in any city," she said.

One problem beyond such gatherings is the prevalence of guns in crimes, Chief Cooper said. There isn't an easy solution to taking guns off the streets since they come from many sources -- stolen in burglaries, from parents in homes or purchased legally but used illegally.

This isn't the first "flash mob" seen in Chattanooga. Nearly a year ago, almost 1,000 students gathered at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Lupton Library, where music blared and people danced until, university police say, students rushed the building chanting, "Let us in! ... Take the library!" and threw items at police.

Students interviewed at the time disputed official versions of the event saying the crowd was between 200 and 300 and remained peaceful until police pepper-sprayed students. The event was billed as a Rave on social networking Web sites.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Patrick Smith/Chattanooga Times Free Press Chattanooga Police Chief Freeman Cooper speaks during a news conference in Coolidge Park on Monday. At the event, Mayor Ron Littlefield called the altercation where five people were shot a "flash mob” incident.

On Monday, Mr. Littlefield remarked that flash mobs have occurred in other cities, originally as a fun way to get people to gather together, but Saturday night's incident "turned ugly."

The mayor said youths gathering for events isn't new, but with today's technology, those gatherings can take place much more quickly, which makes them harder to follow.

"It's often said that we can't arrest our way out of this problem, and that's true," the mayor said. "But don't make us try."


Impromptu gatherings that are initiated through text messaging and messages on such social media sites as Twitter and Facebook. Often the events are planned no more than a few hours before they happen.

During a "flash mob" event that drew 250 people Saturday night to Coolidge Park, five victims were shot three adults and two juveniles. Quincy Bell, 18, Kevin Tucker, 18, and Andreonna Buchanan, 18, were shot in the leg. The two juvenile victims names were not released. None of the injuries were life-threatening.


Anthony Freison, 18, was charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated assault and one count of felony reckless endangerment.

Taurean Patillo was charged with five counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a weapon.

A juvenile also was charged in the incident.


* Jan. 2 -- Body of Jimmy Yearby, 40, found in the middle of Sanders Road. He died of an apparent gunshot to the head.

* Jan. 3 -- Jeffrey Jones, 49, shot in the back at 952 N. Orchard Knob Ave. Kenneth L. Flint was charged with the shooting.

* Jan. 9 -- Jonathan Lawrence, 42, shot and killed while pumping gas at the Kanku's at 3440 Wilcox Blvd. Montez Davis was charged with first-degree murder, reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a firearm.

* Jan. 9 -- Inah Garner, 29, shot in the finger during the crossfire of another shooting Mr. Davis was involved in.

* Jan. 27 -- Glen Bailey, 21, shot twice by his girlfriend's brother while at 2008 Bennett Ave.

* Feb. 6 -- Terry Marshall, 39, shot in the chest at 1501 Roanoke Ave.

* Feb. 11 -- Darius Robinson, 21, shot in the leg while driving past the Kanku's on Wilcox Boulevard.

* Feb. 14 -- Gweniqua Strickland, 22, shot in the abdomen, arm and leg while on the couch inside the residence at 4115 Dorris St. Shots came from outside the residence.

* Feb. 21 -- Denzel Lloyd, 18, shot while walking to his car after a teen party at the Loose Cannon Art Galllery on 1900 Rossville Ave.

* Feb. 21 -- Minnie Moore, 77, grazed in the back and on her elbow by bullets that came from outside her home at 1900 Wilson St.

* Feb. 27 -- Terrance Etchison, 27, shot and killed at the Kanku's on Wilcox Boulevard.

* Feb. 27 -- Cecil Franklin Stodghill, shot while bartending at the L G Lounge at 830 Dodson Ave.

* March 13 -- Juvenile shot in the left side of the neck while seated in an SUV at 4600 Rogers Road.

* March 13 -- 16-year-old male shot in the lower left leg at 1941 Heaton St.

* March 26 -- Marquees McReynolds, 18, and a 15-year-old black male shot at 1953 Southern St.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Idiotmayor said...

Chatt police officers and city officials are just plan stupid! To say that these 2 are conected is obsered! At some point they should think before they open that big hole in their face! School functions and guns in the park w people getting shot don't sound like the same kind of functions! Taxes at a waist again!!!

March 30, 2010 at 2:52 a.m.
captainrt said...

If this did not insult my intelligence, it would be funny. When all else fails, give it a new name in an attempt to make it go down a little easier as in pre-owned rather than used car. This reminds me of the time the Iraq Information Officer was giving a news conference telling the world: "we are beating back the infidels" and in the background you could see an American tank drive by. It's going to be a long hot summer, I can't wait to hear the next euphemism.

March 30, 2010 at 7:46 a.m.
revscottie said...

While listening to Mayor Littlefield on Talk Radio I began to feel dizzy from the amount of spin he was putting on the Coolidge Park shooting incident. When this type of activity goes on around Club Fathom it is described by Mayor Littlefield as a “hotbed of trouble” but when the same thing happens in a city park it is an “isolated unfortunate incident.” On Monday Chief Cooper describes the shooting as retaliation for a prior shooting and then the next day it becomes an isolated incident? Now Chief Cooper describes it as cross town rivals but not gang related. Who does the Littlefield administration think it is fooling?

March 30, 2010 at 8:48 a.m.
InspectorBucket said...


I paid for your salary.

I paid for the police cars.

I paid for Coolidge Park.

Do more than "try."

Make the arrests.

I insist.

Then make the convictions and the sentences.

Convict and sentence Chattanooga's way out of the problem.

That is your job, Mayor Littlefield.

Goodbye, Chief Cooper. You have just failed your Final Exam.

March 30, 2010 at 9:01 a.m.
captainrt said...

"...but this ship can't sink"

"she's made of iron, I assure you she can, and she will. everything you see here will be on the bottom of the ocean."

Conversations from the movie Titanic. A lesson in reality if there ever was one.

March 30, 2010 at 9:19 a.m.
captainrt said...

Vote WINSTON for next Chief of Police, lets take a real bite out of crime!!

Ahh, Winston, where were you when we needed you.

March 30, 2010 at 9:52 a.m.
matt_from_chatt said...

Surely this would not have happen if guns were not allowed to be in parks...oh wait, you liberals already got your way with that in Chattanooga. Strangely, our law had no effect on these people. It's weird how bad guys don't care about laws.

March 30, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.
InspectorBucket said...

But in this particular case the situation was otherwise. The police arrived and then the shooting started.

A true mess.

March 30, 2010 at 10:54 a.m.
Salsa said...

Retire Cooper. Impeach Littlefield.

March 30, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.
signalmtnman said...

Yeah, I think what this situation clearly needed was MORE people in the park with guns. The police were there, arrests have been made, now it's up to the courts to keep these same idiots from doing it again. Also I think the article is simply highlighting flash mob situations in Chattanooga - I don't think it's necessarily saying that this and the UTC event were actually connected instances.

March 30, 2010 at 12:51 p.m.
jack940 said...

how creative "flash mob" the mayor and police chief are in denial. creating a new decription for a very "real problem". let's not ruin this wonderful asset...of this river front park. a couple of patrol officers every evening on foot is a step that needs to be taken today

March 30, 2010 at 2:41 p.m.
ctfpfan08 said...

First of all, if you're going to post a comment calling other people stupid you should really take the time to form a coherent thought AND check your spelling.

Second, signalmtnman, I noticed 2 people voted your comment was not useful and I think that is HILARIOUS! Your comment is the only comment on here with any sense. As if you thoroughly read and understood the article. That's always a nice breath of fresh air. Thank you!

March 30, 2010 at 2:45 p.m.
matt_from_chatt said...

signalmtnman - I am merely pointing out that even though there was a big uproar when the gun laws changed recently, and Chattanooga decided to ban guns in parks, that ban had no effect on criminals, who I agree should not own or be carrying guns. Restrictions only affect law-abiding citizens, who by the way are not visiting Coolidge park and having gangsta gun parties.

Times Free Press - Thanks for providing the list of shootings this year. I think that was added after my gun laws comment, because I didn't notice it before. Please also indicate which of those crimes were committed by people who were legally in possession of a weapon at the indicated times and places. That will give us the full picture of which laws can be uselessly tweaked some more.

March 30, 2010 at 4:01 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

How would more guns have changed this situation? How would my 'concealed' weapon have prevented this crime? Even if I had seen the shooter, what should I have done? What is my field of fire? Are they shooting at me? Am I in defense of another? Who am I defended? Who is the good/bad guy? Now I'm shooting, they're shooting and the police aren't going to stop and ask who has a CCW? Let's get in the real world. Maybe Jack Bauer can shoot a moving target in a crowd of people, but I don't think any of us could. Remember you own every round. And if you need a gun to make you feel safe, you have some issues.

March 30, 2010 at 4:21 p.m.
matt_from_chatt said...

SeaSmokie59er - All legitimate points, I don't think most CCW holders (myself included) want to play hero. I would have just gotten the heck out of dodge.

And yes..when I take my kids home at night, which unfortunately is close to sites of very recent meth busts and other assorted crimes, my .45 does make me feel a little safer. I don't think that's a personal 'issue'.

March 30, 2010 at 4:43 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Matt - If that's what makes you feel safer them more power to you. I work in Miami and my family lives in Chattanooga (because it's much safer). I have good neighbors who help watch out for my family, a good dog, an alarm system and my wife is trained in self-defense as well as a CC permit holder. If she doesn't have her gun she is still able and feels secure because she has other tools. My point is: don't put all your security in a tool because it can and will fail. Good luck out there.

March 30, 2010 at 5:37 p.m.
Quiroga said...

What was the race of those arrested?

March 30, 2010 at 7:22 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Quiroga - They were of the human race.

March 30, 2010 at 9:09 p.m.
rolando said...

Why would that matter, Quiroga? Are you doing a term paper, a profiling study or something? What is the connection?

March 30, 2010 at 9:51 p.m.

I cant believe that they are comparing this to what happened at UTC. The "flash mob" at UTC was peaaceful and happened for school spirit. It turned bad when the police officers got scared because they were outnumbered. I think that the comparison to the UTC flash mob should be taken down because this was obviously not a flash mob that happened in Coolidge park. Some key differences between the two are that A. UTC's flash mob didn't involve guns or gangs. B. UTC's flash mob was for school spirit. C. Almost all of the people at UTC's flash mob were college students not gangsters(and minors*). This sounds to me like a bunch of gangstaz was gettin together in da park and some dummy pulled out a GAT. Kids with guns always equals bad.

April 2, 2010 at noon
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