As people swiftly gathered around the 800 block of Roanoke Avenue where police were tying up crime scene tape Thursday evening, the rumors flew: someone had been shot. Two people were shot. Someone’s cousin. Someone’s friend of a friend.
One thing was clear: a young man lay under a tree near the alley off the street, killed by multiple shots to the head, Chattanooga police say.
They did not release his name Thursday night and gave no information about a suspect.
The slain man’s death marks the 10th shooting homicide in Chattanooga this year, newspaper archives show.
Lonetta Morehead, who lives in a house across from the alley, said she came outside after hearing a series of shots.
“At first I thought it was firecrackers, so I went back in. It wasn’t two minutes later, when I heard another set of shots. I came out and saw him there. I told my neighbor, ‘You know there’s a body laying in that alley?’”
No one else was around, Morehead said. She said she heard about 15 shots.
About 150 people gathered around the block as police began their interviews, pressing against the crime scene tape and craning to see more. Several people were cursing and weeping at the news, and the victim’s family members gathered to comfort one another. They declined to talk about the shooting.
As the evening wore on, smaller fights broke out around the fringes of the crowd. One woman charged another, who then swiped her assailant’s face with brass knuckles. Police arrested the woman with the brass knuckles.
Police arrested another man on the street for urinating in public as children played on a nearby porch.
“You’ve just got a bunch of fires that start after a volcano erupts,” Weary said in response to the commotion.
A storm blew in quickly, drenching onlookers, investigators and the slain man’s body, which remained uncovered.
“Unfortunately, [the rain] can wash away some evidence, but you do greater harm by moving the body,” Weary said. “There wasn’t time to set up a canopy to protect it so it had to lay there. Putting anything on the body would only drag evidence away after it’s uncovered.”
Several hours later as darkness fell, many people were still gathered at the scene, and many had to wait for police to take down the crime tape so they could get to their houses.
Waiting to go home were Cynthia Smith and her daughter Destiny Hunter.
“It’s gotten bad around here,” said Smith. “I put bars on my window. It just seems like every couple of weeks I hear gunshots around here.”