published Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Officials say violence 'spilling over' to Cleveland, Tenn.

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Some Cleveland residents have a message for Chattanooga folk: Get yourself and your problems out of here.

On Monday night, Cleveland police issued a warrant for the arrest of Cordarrius Dewon Cochran on 12 charges: 10 counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of aggravated assault. The warrants come after a shooting outside Luv 2 Dance Studio at 2007 Cleveland Ave. SE on Sunday morning. A Chattanooga resident had rented the building for a party.

Police say Cochran, 23, fired 10 shots around 2 a.m. Sunday. Bullets shattered a car window, spraying glass on a passenger. Cochran’s shots allegedly injured two other people, pierced another car and struck at least one house. The victim’s injuries were not life threatening.

Freddy Mora and his wife, Nadya, operate Luv 2 Dance Studio, and about a year ago they began renting the event hall to make a little extra money. Most of the parties have ended in peace, he said, but there have been exceptions. In particular, he blames visitors from Chattanooga.

Since about April, with violence here causing Chattanooga police to crack down on local event halls, some Chattanooga residents have begun to rent Mora’s dance studio. Before the last three parties, Mora said, he has alerted Cleveland police and advised them to increase patrol in the area.

For last weekend’s party, which began Saturday night and crawled into early Sunday, Mora rented the property to Chattanooga native Mon Franklin.

“We don’t want Chattanooga people coming up here; I guess I should have realized it,” Mora said Monday. “But they told me they weren’t going to cause any more problems, and we had more police officers in the area. I don’t know what else you can do. People want to shoot with police around? That’s crazy.”

Last week, Chattanooga Deputy City Attorney Phillip Noblett told the Times Free Press that the city attorney’s office is looking into whether officials can shut down a pair of local event halls after recent shootings on the properties. The attorneys are targeting an unnamed venue at 2510 E. Main Street and Emotion Event Hall, located at 1622 Dodds Ave. Some know the second venue as Da Building.

If certain illegal activities occur at a location, according to state law, that place can be labeled a nuisance. City officials can then shut the venue down through an injunction filed in Criminal, Chancery or Circuit courts.

Cleveland police Spokeswoman Evie West said the department has had issues with Luv 2 Dance Studio dating back to March 2012. Though no arrests have been made at the location, West said there have been reports of shootings, drug deals and fights. The incidents have increased this summer.

“We believe [the violence is] spilling over to Cleveland,” West said. “I know that Chattanooga PD is cracking down on these, so maybe people are saying, ‘Hey, let’s go over to Cleveland.’”

Mora pointed out that his event hall is not a bar, but renters were allowed to bring alcohol to their parties. On Sunday morning, after the shots were fired, Mora came to the building and found beer bottles littering the ground. No more, he said. Going forward, he promised that no alcohol will be allowed on the premises.

Roger Webb, of 2030 Century Ave. SE, lives about a block from the event hall. He can see it from his back porch. And on Sunday morning, about 15 minutes after going to sleep, he awoke to the sound of gunfire. He and his wife jumped out of bed. She checked the front door; he checked the back.

The shots were so loud, he thought they came from his yard. He heard someone yell, “Get down!”

Webb felt nervous.

From his back porch, he saw a crowd outside the dance studio. And he saw police.

Webb has lived in his house for 4-1/2 years. The area’s never had many problems. It’s never been violent — not until this year.

“It scares me to death,” he said Monday. “I got grandkids here all the time. They sleep in the back bedroom. If they start shooting again and don’t know where they’re aiming …”

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

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