published Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Family: Teen killed by Catoosa County deputy had drug problem

Police believe 19-year-old Nathan Trew broke into the the home of Tony and Carla Adams on Mallard Hill in the Meadows subdivision in Ringgold, Ga.
Police believe 19-year-old Nathan Trew broke into the the home of Tony and Carla Adams on Mallard Hill in the Meadows subdivision in Ringgold, Ga.

A 19-year-old shot and killed by a deputy after he robbed a Ringgold, Ga., home had struggled with drug addiction, his family said Wednesday.

Nathan Trew was raised in Apison, Tenn., and went to East Hamilton High School for two years, his family wrote in the teen's obituary. He loved the outdoors and competing nationally in dirt bike racing, they said.

But he also did drugs and hung around friends who were a bad influence, his family said in a written statement.

"His desperation and struggle with his drug addiction unfortunately led to this devastating situation and conclusion," the letter read.

Trew was shot in the chest and killed Tuesday after authorities say he waved a shotgun at a group of deputies in the woods near Ooltewah-Ringgold Road.

East Hamilton Assistant Principal Eddie Gravitte remembers Trew saying he wanted to sign up for the Marines after school, but he didn't complete all his courses to graduate.

Before his 19th birthday, Trew had been arrested three times in Hamilton County, records show. He was scheduled be in court at the end of April for a simple assault charge in which he had already received a suspended sentence. The March 2011 charge alleged Trew followed another student home from his bus route and shoved him, records show.

Trew was charged in October 2011 with stealing money, jewelry and knives from his friend's home and then lying to police, but those charges were dropped.

On Tuesday, the Catoosa County Sheriff's office got a report about 2:30 p.m. that someone had broken into Tony and Carla Adams' home in the Meadows subdivision. The back door had been kicked in and the couple's bedroom was ransacked, Tony Adams said.

Then another report came in of a man walking through the upscale neighborhood with a shotgun over his shoulder and a duffle bag in hand, reports showed.

A K-9 unit searched the woods across from the Davis Cattle Ranch on Ooltewah-Ringgold Road. Officers found a duffle bag buried in leaves. Lying next to it was an empty handgun box, the report said.

Another group of deputies discovered Trew hiding near an abandoned house, reports state. After a confrontation in which Trew held a shotgun and raised it toward officers, Detective Jeremy Keener shot him with a rifle, reports show.

Trew died minutes later. A handgun was found hidden in his pants, Catoosa Sheriff Phil Summers said.

Keener -- a 14-year sheriff's office employee -- is on administrative leave while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation compiles a report.

The sheriff believes his officer's actions were justified.

Keener couldn't be reached for comment.

Authorities also are investigating whether Trew burglarized another home last Thursday in the same neighborhood.

A day after the shooting, residents of the Meadows neighborhood said they were shocked when they learned the burglary suspect was only 19.

"It's unfortunate," Tony Adams said. "I would have looked for a better outcome, but I guess when that's what kind of lifestyle you participate in, you sort of have to expect it might happen."

On Friday, Trew's family will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Valley View Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home.

"Our family is sorry for the harm that anyone has experienced at the hand of our son," his family wrote.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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