9 people shot in downtown Chattanooga on Christmas morning

9 people shot in downtown Chattanooga on Christmas morning

December 25th, 2011 by Staff Report in Local Regional News

Investigators William Salyers and Heather Williams bag evidence on Sunday from a shooting on 4th Street in Downtown Chattanooga between Market and Cherry Streets. The shooting happened around midnight on Christmas Eve leaving nine people wounded.

Photo by Alex Washburn/Times Free Press.

Investigators William Salyers and Heather Williams collect a bullet casing on Sunday as evidence from a shooting in a parking lot at the corner of 4th and Cherry Streets in downtown Chattanooga. The shooting happened around midnight on Christmas Eve leaving nine people wounded.

Photo by Alex Washburn/Times Free Press.

A fight between two rival gangs was behind shootings that injured nine people on Cherry Street in downtown Chattanooga on Christmas Eve, police say.

It happened as about 400 teens were leaving a Christmas party at Club Fathom, police spokeswoman Jerri Weary said. One gang member pulled a gun and began firing into the crowd, and a member of an opposing gang began shooting back, Weary said.

Officers were trying to identify the shooters when one person pointed a gun at Officer Jacques Weary, who fired back four times. The shooter escaped and police don't know if he was hit. Jacques Weary was uninjured.

Five of the people shot were juveniles and four were adults. An adult and two juveniles were admitted to a local hospital, Jerri Weary said. The most seriously injured was a 17-year-old youth who was hit in the pelvis, but none of the injuries was believed to be life threatening, she said.

Investigators also are working on a report from 2505 Oak St., whose occupants told police Saturday night that suspects from the shootings were in front of their home threatening to shoot up the house. When police arrived no suspects were on the scene and there was no indication that the house had been shot.

Another shooting took place around the same time at 1202 Poplar Springs Court.

Thomas Heffner, 18, told police he was walking with friends when a black Chevy with tinted windows pulled up and someone got out of the back of the car and began firing. Heffner ran away and was struck in the hand. He was treated and released at the scene, Weary said.

Jacques Weary has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard in any officer-involved shooting. The Chattanooga Police Department Internal Affairs Division will conduct a parallel investigation with the Major Crimes Division into Officer Weary's shooting.

"This is a lengthy investigation which will take investigators some time to verify information," Jerri Weary said.