The case against a man accused of opening fire outside an O'Charley's restaurant is headed to the Hamilton County grand jury.
Chattanooga police say 22-year-old Keith Martell Rawls Jr., of Irvine Drive, got into a fight with an O'Charley's employee over a woman on June 11. The two fought in the parking lot, and a police incident report says Rawls fired a shot toward the other man.
Rawls' attorney, Bill Speek, declined to have a preliminary hearing Monday because he wanted to move the case to the grand jury as soon as possible.
"My client is claiming innocence," Speek said. "As more witnesses come forward, we are getting a better understanding of what happened that night. The evidence makes it clear that my client had no intention of hurting the other individual but did need to protect himself."
When he was arrested, Rawls told police that he and Brandon Anderson were arguing about Rawls' girlfriend. He said Anderson had been talking to her and paying her bills.
On June 10, he told police, Anderson came to his house and threatened him. That night, Rawls bought a gun from "the street."
The next day, Rawls went to O'Charley's and asked another employee to bring Anderson out to the parking lot. There, witnesses told investigators, Rawls waited for him, with the gun.
Anderson told police that Rawls hit him in the face and pounded his gun against Anderson's head. Then, with Anderson lying on the pavement, Rawls fired a shot. He missed.
The two men struggled for the gun, according to the report, and the magazine fell out. Police picked up Rawls as he fled.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6476.