published Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Man shot in face while driving is Chattanooga's 20th shooting victim this year

2014 CITY SHOOTINGS

View our 2014 Chattanooga shootings list and map.

HOW TO HELP

Anyone with any information about the shootings is asked to call police at 423-698-2525 or Crime Stoppers at 423-698-3333.

  • photo
    Officer Greg Mardis with the Chattanooga Police Department uses rods to mark bullet holes while using a Leica Geosystem 3D laser scanner to record data from the crime scene after responding to a person shot call near the 2000 block of Central Avenue on Monday. Broken glass and bullet holes lined the drivers side of a white Ford Bronco which collided with a Kia after the driver of the Bronco was shot in the head. According the a CPD spokesperson the victim was in critical condition as of early Monday afternoon.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A 34-year-old man became Chattanooga's 20th shooting victim of the year when he was shot multiple times in the face while driving on Central Avenue in broad daylight Monday.

Derrick Lee Thornton suffered gunshot wounds to his face, arm and chest, yet managed to steer his Ford Bronco a couple of blocks before crashing into another vehicle.

He was rushed to surgery at a local hospital just before 10 a.m. and was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon. His injuries left him unable to talk.

Meanwhile, police treated the shooting scene as they would a homicide.

At the corner of Rossville Boulevard and Central Avenue near where Thornton was wounded, investigators brought out the department's laser scanner to document every casing.

They roped off the intersection with crime scene tape. They took measurements and placed rods in each bullethole showing the path of travel for each of the bullets that pierced the Bronco.

It's unclear what led to Thornton's shooting.

Of the 20 people shot and wounded in Chattanooga so far this year, Thornton and at least six others have been shot in the south part of the city. It's unclear whether all or some of the shootings are related.

In 2008, Thornton was convicted of possession of cocaine. He received a three-year suspended sentence. The same year, he was also convicted of attempted reckless aggravated assault with a one- year suspended sentence. His last arrest was in December on a DUI charge.

No one answered the door at his residence Monday afternoon in Avondale.

Thornton wasn't the city's only shooting victim on Monday, according to Chattanooga police.

Just before 1 a.m. police were dispatched to 5610 Pinelawn Ave. in Brainerd where 38-year-old Chenika Toney had been shot in the hip while she was in her residence. She told police she did not know who shot her.

Mayor Andy Berke has vowed to reduce the number of shootings in Chattanooga. His violence reduction initiative is scheduled to begin in late March.

At this time in Chattanooga last year, there had been 17 shootings with 22 victims. This year, there have been at least 19 shootings with 20 victims, according to records kept by the Times Free Press.

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

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