Bus-stop suspects may be tried as adults

Bus-stop suspects may be tried as adults

December 10th, 2010 by Todd South in News

The district attorney's office has filed petitions to transfer three teen suspects in the Tuesday bus stop shooting on Through Street from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court because of the severity of the acts, records show.

Lonta Burress, 16, and two 17-year-olds -- one male, one female -- each have been charged with three counts of aggravated assault, one count of felony possession of a firearm while committing a dangerous felony and one count of evading arrest.

Police said someone in a stolen red Ford F-150 truck fired six to 10 shots from two .38-caliber revolvers at students standing at the 3210 Through St. bus stop about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. No one was injured.

Police saw the truck and chased it until it hit another vehicle and a utility pole. The driver and the male juvenile were arrested. The female turned herself in Wednesday night.

Detention hearings for the teens were held Wednesday and Thursday in Juvenile Court, but no future court dates were scheduled as of Thursday afternoon.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd said Wednesday that more charges may be added, which would allow Juvenile Court to release more information.

Burress and two adults were charged earlier this year in connection with the March 27 Coolidge Park shooting that injured five people, District Attorney Bill Cox said.

Burress faced five counts of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault and one count of felony reckless endangerment in that shooting.

Cox said charges were dropped in that case because the sole witness to the shooting wouldn't testify against Burress at a July hearing.

"It's always frustrating when people change their testimony or are unwilling to come forward and testify to something that could help keep the community safe," he said.

But because that case never went to trial, it can be reopened and there may be new evidence, Cox said.

The others charged in the Coolidge Park shooting -- Anthony Frieson, 18, and Taurean Patillo, 19 -- are scheduled to appear before Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman today, according to court records.

Both face five counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and reckless aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment and one count of employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony.

Danielle Clark, spokeswoman for Hamilton County Schools, confirmed that Burress attends Washington Alternative School and the two 17-year-olds dropped out of Tyner Academy before the fall break.

Dodd said the shooters targeted two students on the bus.

A school security officer was at the Through Street bus stop Wednesday along with Chattanooga police.

"We take care of our kids in our buildings and in our buses," Clark said. "We can't control what's happening in the neighborhoods."

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6347.