Chattanooga Police Department Sgt. Bill Phillips, left, talks with investigators Mike Wenger, right, and Adam Emery near the intersection of Taylor and Milne streets on Wednesday where a 17-year-old male was shot to death around 1:30 a.m. Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press
No one seemed surprised to hear gunshots ring out on a dark street in the Avondale neighborhood Wednesday morning.
They’ve heard them before.
“Stupid is a choice. Stupid decisions. Kids who take violence into their own hands? Stupid decision,” said Charles Seymo, 44, whose family lives near the latest shooting scene in Chattanooga.
“Teenagers live too fast, trying to be too grown,” he said.
Killings have plagued Avondale all year. The latest victim is 17-year-old Darrius Townsend, who was gunned down early Wednesday morning in the 900 block of Taylor Street.
Townsend was shot in the head and back, according to the Chattanooga Police Department.
His death was the 12th homicide in Chattanooga this year.
Later Wednesday morning, residents wandered along Taylor Street, which connects Milne Street to neighboring Windsor Apartments and Woodlawn Apartments.
Someone placed plastic flowers in the cracks of the sidewalk where Townsend’s body was found. Bits of potato chip wrappers, broken plastic cups and broken furniture lay in the grass and glass shards littered the street.
The blood travels by the block in this neighborhood.
Just one block away, Herbert Strickland was slain at the Big K convenience store at 909 Dodson Ave. on May 19. Two blocks away, Aaron Burton was killed inside his home in the 2100 block of Windsor Street on April 9.
Investigators said it’s unclear whether any of the homicides are related.
About 10 a.m. Wednesday, a lanky youth was stopped, patted down and placed in the back of a patrol car near the scene of the latest slaying, but as of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests had been made.
Townsend’s cousin, Jay Leo, wrote a message Wednesday on the Chattanooga Times Free Press’ Facebook page.
“We ask that you pray for our family. And to the person or individuals that pulled the trigger, God sees and knows all, you can run but you can- not hide, give your self up ... Dee we love you!!!! See you when I get there.”
Townsend, who lived at Woodlawn Apartments, was known for strolling along Arlington Street and rapping aloud. His little niece was often in tow, neighbors said, and this winter, he made snow angels with her out front.
“That made me nauseated when I heard” about the killing, said a 50-year-old woman who lives in Woodlawn Apartments. She declined to give her name out of fear of retaliation.
She said she heard at least two gunshots.
“He was a handsome, good-looking fellow,” she said. “He didn’t mess with anyone I could tell.”
But there was another side to Townsend.
He was facing an aggravated robbery charge from November, according to Hamilton County Criminal Court records. The charge stemmed from an armed robbery at 900 Dodson Ave., according to a report.
He also had a cocaine possession charge stemming from a February arrest.
Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@times freepress.com or 423-757-6406.