published Friday, September 13th, 2013

Woman arrested in shooting of man over traffic crash in Chattanooga

It started with a car accident, then it turned into a confrontation.

When 19-year-old Ignacio Diaz-Velazquez tried to drive away after allegedly hitting Durlan Lasha Johnson's car at an apartment complex at 510 Central Ave., she shot him Wednesday night.

"Ms. Johnson advised that she pulled her gun on him to try and get him to stop but he pulled forward and struck the gun while it was in her hand and the gun went off," a Chattanooga police arrest report states.

Johnson, 25, told police she came out of her apartment with her gun to confront Diaz-Velazquez. She now faces charges of aggravated assault, unlawful carrying of a firearm and reckless endangerment. Her bond was set at $80,000.

Diaz-Velazquez, who was wounded in his left side, was found inside the vehicle when police arrived on scene. He remains in critical condition at a local hospital, according to police.

This shooting marks 97 shooting incidents in Chattanooga this year, with 114 victims, according to police. At the same time last year, there were 65 shootings with 75 victims.

With more than a couple of months to go, the city likely will surpass the number of shootings in 2012. Last year there were 103 shooting incidents with 122 victims.

In response to the increase in violence a few weeks ago, Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd reassigned 50 police officers from units including: training, narcotics, vice and auto theft to work patrol shifts in high crime areas.

"We've adjusted some personnel. We've adjusted some tactics in dealing with the street crime. We're hoping ... it will fall drastically," he said.

A total of 19 new officers will complete their field training programs and be ready to work shifts independently beginning Sept. 20.

Dodd said one of the reasons that shootings continue is because many of those involved are repeat offenders.

In some cases, an arrest is never made if victims or witnesses don't cooperate. Even when an arrest is made, often times the accused gunman is released, he said.

"The unfortunate thing about it is that no one seems to want to come forward unless it's a murder," he said.

Johnson was on the scene when police arrived and she was arrested. Her next court date is set for Sept. 23 before Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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