published Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Chattanooga teenager shot in leg by police officer

Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Law enforcement officers respond to a home invasion and police-involved shooting at 601 Ledford St. early Monday afternoon.
Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press. Law enforcement officers respond to a home invasion and police-involved shooting at 601 Ledford St. early Monday afternoon.
601 Ledford St.
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The cars aren’t hard to miss.

One resident of Chattanooga’s Ledford Street counted 16 cars coming to the dead-end road in a single day over the weekend.

“They come to the top and turn around,” she said, declining to give her name out of fear of retaliation. “That’s a lot of traffic that comes up this street for a dead-end street.”

Residents say the cars — coupled with the frequent stops at the residence and occasional gunfire — are a sign that a drug dealer lives in the neighborhood near the intersection of Shallowford Road and Tunnel Boulevard.

And it’s what police believe led to two teens invading a home at 601 Ledford St., looking for drugs and money to steal.

The end result was a 16-year-old getting shot by a police officer a little more than a week after officers shot another robbery suspect who fired upon officers. In that case, Sgt. Tim Chapin was killed and suspect Jesse Mathews was arrested and charged with counts of felony murder, attempted first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery.

Just after noon Monday, a Chattanooga police officer shot and wounded the teen after he brandished a gun at the officer while trying to escape the property. The teen, who was wearing a bandanna over his face, was wounded in the leg, police said.

“It wasn’t just your typical home that was being robbed. It was a drug house,” said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd at the scene.

Police did not release the names of the suspects or the officer involved. Three officers responded to the home after witnesses called police.

The officer involved in the shooting will go on leave for six days per department policy, but it appears the officer used necessary force in this case, Dodd said.

“He saw one of the suspects look out the front door, made eye contact with him,” Dodd said, noting the officer moved to the side of the residence to find the suspects fleeing out the back. “As the officer challenged him, the suspect turned, pointed a weapon toward the officer. The officer turned and shot him.”

A second suspect ran and was caught by officers.

“They are aggressive criminals regardless of the age,” Dodd said. “When you come equipped with weapons, when you come equipped with bandannas to hide your identity and kick someone’s door in — it’s a dangerous business to be in regardless of what age you are.”

Police obtained a search warrant for the residence shortly after the shooting.

The woman who lives on Ledford, after watching one teen roll away on a stretcher and another leave in the back of a patrol car, said she hopes police will begin to patrol her neighborhood more often.

“Once a day is not enough,” she said. “If they would patrol it, it would eliminate a lot of it. There’s elderly people on this street. I have a son who I don’t want to play in the yard now. Anybody could catch a bullet. ... We want our neighborhood back.”

Contact Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6406.

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