published Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Bradley County man shot dead; girlfriend wounded

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A gun went off inside a Cleveland, Tenn., home Sunday night, wounding a woman and killing her boyfriend.

At 10:45 p.m., Bradley County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a 911 call reporting the sound of a gunshot at 3248 Spring Place Road SE. Paramedics took Cody Tatum to SkyRidge Medical Center. There, about 11:15 p.m., according to the Bradley County Medical Examiner's Office, doctors pronounced Tatum dead.

The sheriff's office did not release the identity of Tatum's girlfriend Monday. But she was taken Sunday night on a Life Force helicopter to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga. Her condition was not known Monday evening.

The sheriff's office did not provide further information about the incident. Spokesman Bob Gault could not say whether Tatum, his girlfriend or someone else did the shooting. He also could not say whether the sheriff's office expects to make an arrest related to the incident.

On Monday afternoon, Tatum's mother and brother and a friend declined to talk when a reporter showed up at the mobile home.

Neighbors, meanwhile, say they heard only one gunshot Sunday. Arthur Houts, who lives on the same plot of land and runs a nursery there, said he was sitting in his greenhouse with his dog, Jagger, when a quick bang pierced what had been a quiet night.

Houts said Tatum loved guns and often would shoot behind his housefor fun. But this was different. It was late at night, and it sounded like it came from inside, he said.

Minutes later, police cars arrived. They would stay until about 4 a.m., interviewing neighbors and Tatum's roommate.

"I heard one shot," Houts said. "How does two people get shot with one shot? It's impossible. ... It's such a tragedy."

Tatum, who was in his late 20s, saw Houts almost every day. Houts said Tatum and his girlfriend were friendly and often would come over to chat. Occasionally, Tatum would propose a trade: one of Houts' plants for one of Tatum's beers.

Houts also remembers Tatum working a lot, and consistently. Most recently, he worked at the Ocoee Winery.

"He was a real regular guy. Religiously, between 9 and 10 [a.m.], he was out of here," Houts said, pointing to the land where the two lived. "Every day, even on weekends."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or at tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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