published Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Arrest made in 14th Street homicide

An investigator moves past evidence markers carefully placed next to a vehicle wherein a man was shot Monday night. A man was shot in the 2300 block of 14th Street late Monday night, and later died from his wounds in a hospital. Investigators worked into the early hours of the morning.
An investigator moves past evidence markers carefully placed next to a vehicle wherein a man was shot Monday night. A man was shot in the 2300 block of 14th Street late Monday night, and later died from his wounds in a hospital. Investigators worked into the early hours of the morning.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

The cool air dried Laverne Moore's tears on her face as she stood outside her home, clutching garbage in her hand.

Still in shock only hours after her youngest of three boys was gunned down in a car outside the home, she continued to clean and reclean the house on Tuesday, picking up garbage scattered near the road.

She had to keep moving. Keep busy.

If she stayed still, she would begin to think, her thoughts leading her to Monday night when gunfire erupted and her son, Leslie "Mac Lo" Townsend, was shot to death at close range.

Townsend, 25, was shot while sitting in his car parked in her driveway at 2302 E. 14th St. a little after 11 p.m. where he lived.

By Tuesday afternoon, police had arrested 34-year-old Shermaine "Tray Mellow" Menifee in connection with Townsend's death. Menifee faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm after a witness told police Menifee brandished a black handgun and opened fire.

Menifee's court date is set for Oct. 23 before Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck.

Townsend and Menifee are both gang members, according to police. Townsend was validated as a Gangster Disciple, police say, while Menifee is a Tre 07 Underworld Crip.

Since 1996, Menifee has faced a total of 60 charges, ranging from driving violations to convictions of robbery and aggravated assault, according to court records.

On Tuesday, at least a dozen crime scene markers littered Moore's driveway, marking casings and evidence as detectives worked until 7 a.m. Before noon, cars lined the street as family members and friends came to pay their respects.

"He was loved by everyone," Moore said, declining to comment further.

One person who apparently came to pay respects was later a shooting victim himself.

Osha Morris, 19, was shot just before 3 p.m. Tuesday while inside a residence at 3519 Third Ave. He sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, said Chattanooga police spokesman Master Patrol Officer Nathan Hartwig.

Hartwig said it is too early to tell whether this shooting is connected to the Monday night shooting of Townsend -- but neighbors said Tuesday's 19-year-old victim had just returned from visiting Townsend's family when the shooting happened.

Townsend's family said his son, 8-year-old Leslie Jr. was still sleeping just after 10 a.m. No one knew how to break the news to him.

On Facebook, photos of his sixth birthday show both Leslies -- with the youngest beaming at the camera -- as his father steadies his hand to cut the cake.

Townsend had two children with a third on the way.

"He was nice, lovable person. He was a good dad," said Townsend's 35-year-old cousin who declined to give her name. "He was always with his kids -- no matter what."

Death is no stranger to Moore's residence.

On March 15, 2011, Robert Moore, 49, was struck by a stray round while sitting on the front porch of the home. Moore, Townsend's uncle, was shot in the abdomen and died at the hospital.

Kadeem Pratt was charged in connection with Moore's death. His next court date is set for Nov. 6 before Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern.

On that same day, Townsend, who was 24 at the time, was accused of shooting 25-year-old Leon McKinney in the hand on Tunnel Boulevard. Police suspected the shootings of McKinney and Moore were connected.

Townsend was initially charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault, but the charges were dropped and later expunged from his record, according to clerks.

Townsend's death marks the 21st homicide in the city this year.

Shelly Bradbury contributed to this report.

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