Rumors abound in Main Street death that Chattanooga police say was not random

Rumors abound in Main Street death that Chattanooga police say was not random

April 3rd, 2013 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

Chattanooga firefighters Eric Roddy, left, and Cody Wallin disinfect a puddle of blood while working the scene where Desomd McClure, 28, was fatally shot early Tuesday morning. McClure was pronounced dead when police found his body at 2:45 a.m. in the parking lot of 2510 E. Main St. with multiple gunshot wounds.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Desmond Nigel Mcclure

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Site of E. Main St. shooting

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

On both sides of the road and around the corner, cars lined the 2000 block of Duncan Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. Twenty, 30 people came together in small groups to talk about what happened 12 hours earlier.

And behind a chain-link fence at 2006 Duncan Ave., the former home of 28-year-old Desmond Nigel McClure, family gathered in the front yard. Children ran circles. Adults sat and talked.

At 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, Chattanooga police responded to a call from 2510 E. Main St. A man had been shot, someone said. There, in the parking lot, officers found McClure, several bullets pumped into his body. He was dead at the scene.

Later that afternoon, McClure's father said he and McClure's mother were not prepared to talk to the Times Free Press. Their pain was too fresh, he said. But he thinks he knows the killer, and he will share that information one day.

Though rumors spread Tuesday, no official voice spoke up to reveal what unfolded the minutes before McClure died, and mystery abounds. Chattanooga police Master Patrol Officer Nathan Hartwig said the shooting was not random, and there is no evidence of gang violence.

This is known, though: McClure's death marks the city's ninth homicide of the year. This is the seventh known death after the snap of a gun's trigger. In all, there have been 28 shootings with 34 victims here in 2013.

And, perhaps most devastating, this marks the first homicide in Chattanooga since March 24, when gang leaders agreed to a cease fire.

What happened in the early morning hours? Former Ridgedale Community Association President Gary Ball said people were at a bar inside 2510 E. Main St. when two groups got into an argument. A fight broke out. Bar employees kicked the two groups outside. McClure was part of one of those groups, and someone shot him.

Ball, who owns Tower Construction one block east of the shooting, said a reliable source came to his office and told him about the fight Tuesday. Hartwig said the police have not heard about the fight.

"I have no information about a fight beforehand," Hartwig wrote in an email. "If you have sources that say there was, please have them call our detectives."

From the outside, the building is blank. No signs advertise any sort of bar, and other than the numbers "2510" hanging above the entrance, no decorations invite people inside. In the last decade, several bars have operated on the property, which is owned by Raymond Hunter Jr., who could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Tax records, business records and Chattanooga Times Free Press archives give this brief history of the place. In 2002-03, Hunter operated a place called Boo Coes Sports Bar & Grill. In 2005-07, it was called G Spot, first owned by Meg Kelley, then by Angela Taylor. In 2008, it was called The Wet Bar, though no county business records indicate who owned it.

In 2010, the place was called Xcape Ultra Lounge. Keith Banks once owned it, though records show he turned over his beer license in September 2010. Then, the place became a club for teenagers. And between October 2010 and January 2011, three teenagers got shot.

In a January 2011 article, Chattanooga police Lt. Nealie Hogg told the Times Free Press he would ask the department's civil enforcement unit to examine Xcape. Sgt. Bobby Simpson, a member of that unit, said in the same article that he was ready to look for a "pattern of life-threatening events" at the club.

It is unclear whether this ever happened, and Hartwig did not respond to an email Tuesday night asking about it. In February 2011, Josefina Anchondo turned the building into El Pokar De Ases. No business license records indicate who has operated the building since then.

That doesn't matter, Ball said. No matter who owns it, the location is a constant stream of drug-related violence.

"It's like the Wild West out there," he said.

McClure does not have much of a criminal history. In Hamilton County, he has only been convicted of one crime: failure to appear in court in January 2004.

A Twitter search for McClure's name showed few results. And nobody publicly threatened revenge. The site only offered a few well wishers.

"God works in mysterious ways," one woman wrote. "He gained another angel this morning. Rip Desmond McClure."

While Chattanooga police reported that they didn't see any gang-related evidence Tuesday, the department has not ruled it out. Since the cease fire last week, some residents say, life has not been any more peaceful.

Theresa Ivey, who is secretary both for the Ridgedale Association and for Ball at Tower Construction, said she reported noises that sounded like shootings twice last weekend. However, Ivey also noted she might have just heard fireworks. She doesn't know, but her neck hairs have stood up several times since community leaders reported a gang truce.

"There is a cease-fire?" she asked, facetiously. "What's that?"

Staff writer Pam Sohn contributed to this report.

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