Cars pulled up to No. 103 in the Dodson Avenue Apartments complex at steady intervals Friday morning.
They were filled with the family, friends and neighbors of Dwana Dixson, looking for answers after the 47-year-old was fatally shot outside the apartment early Friday morning.
“Not Dwana. Not like this,” LaTasha Smith, a friend of Dixson’s two daughters, said as she stared at the door to the apartment.
A few minutes earlier, Dixson’s cousin Reba O’Neal had pulled into the parking lot, shaking her head.
“I don’t know why anyone would have any reason to do this to Dwana. There’s no good reason,” she said.
Dixson lived with her mother. O’Neal wanted to check on the older woman, but the only people in the apartment were an environmental cleanup crew with Affinity Group, mopping up blood and pulling up stained carpet.
Chattanooga police said Dixson was outside the apartment shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, talking with friends. Several neighbors said they heard five shots. Dixson staggered back into the apartment, bleeding from her chest. Her mother quickly called paramedics, but Dixson died at the hospital.
Police had not released any information on motive or suspects late Friday.
Dixson’s slaying is Chattanooga’s 18th homicide this year. Sixteen of those victims died from gunshots, and 10 of those have taken place within two miles of Dixson’s apartment complex in East Chattanooga.
Chattanooga City Councilman Peter Murphy, whose district includes that sector, has said that he is looking for ways to curb violence in the area.
Murphy said Friday he is talking with several foundations about bringing more social services to the area. He’s also researching other cities with demographics comparable to Chattanooga’s that have lower levels of crime.
“If we can see what they’re doing better than us and steal their ideas, we need to do it,” he said.
He noted that blaming all the area’s crime on poor parenting, poverty or inadequate policing is short-sighted.
“There’s a whole lot of fronts we need to do better on. I’m not willing to give up on it and I know this community is demanding its leadership seek some solutions.”
Residents at the Dodson Avenue Apartments say Dixson’s loss is a shock.
Pam Jackson said that coming home from work at night, she would often smile and speak with Dixson, who would often be sitting outside with a cigarette.
“It breaks my heart that she’s gone. No, I didn’t know her very well. But she was just a friendly neighbor, just a constant in my day. I will miss that constant.”