Shooting victim tried to break up fight, witnesses say

Shooting victim tried to break up fight, witnesses say

February 20th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

Margaret Harris, charged with shooting a 17-year-old who died Friday, Feb. 19, 2011.

The tears wouldn't stop flowing for Latoya Harris all day Saturday.

"I just can't stop crying," said Harris, 20, of Chattanooga.

Her boyfriend, James Dominick Sherrell, was shot Friday and died.

Her mother, Margaret Harris, is charged in his slaying.

"It seems like a nightmare. I just can't get it through my head that he's gone," Latoya Harris said Saturday between choked breaths. "I got to go home with nobody to lay with. I don't have nobody to go home to. I don't have anyone to talk to. It hurts. And now my momma's gone. It's two in one."

Chattanooga Police Department investigators arrested 37-year-old Margaret Harris on a charge of criminal homicide early Saturday. She remains in the Hamilton County Jail without bond.

Dominick Sherrell's mother grieved at her own mother's home Saturday. Towanda Sherrell, 37, remembered getting shot in the neck 20 years ago and ran her fingers along the scar.

She survived. Her son did not.

"It depends on the size of the bullet and where it hits," she said, eyes tired. "It's up to the man upstairs. If it's your time to go, it's your time to go. I just hate he went like this."

Dominick Sherrell apparently was a victim of a feud that began in January between two families.

Sherrell's 16-year-old cousin, Eric, was jailed after his girlfriend, Margaret Harris' 18-year-old daughter, Brittany, accused him of domestic violence for firing a bullet into her car. The two have a 1-year-old son.

Since then members of his family have threatened Brittany and her family, the Harrises said. They retaliated by smashing out the windows of her car.

On Friday, Brittany went to pick up her sister, Shalinda, 17, near a bus stop at the corner of Sheridan Avenue and Wilson Street and saw a group of girls fighting with her sister.

Shalinda said she was getting ready to exit the bus.

"I saw a crowd and a whole bunch of people. I got off the bus and took the last step, and she [Sherrell's cousin] just hit me. That's how the fight started."

Brittany, her left eye puffy and swollen, said she jumped in to help her sister.

Eventually the fight broke up. Around 5 p.m., Latoya was driving Brittany and Shalinda to the store. Her mother, Margaret, followed in another car.

Brittany saw Dominick Sherrell's car in the 1300 block of North Orchard Knob Avenue and stopped.

He was standing with his cousin, one of the girls who had fought with the Harris sisters earlier that day. In moments, the fight was going again, with Sherrell trying to break it up.

"He was telling them, 'Don't ya'll fight,'" Towanda Sherrell said, sitting at her own mother's home Saturday. She said she heard about the fight from others.

But more and more people were converging and the scene unfolded in chaos, the Harrises said.

Sherrell was hit in the head with a golf club that gashed his head.

Then, witnesses told police, Sherrell began to walk toward the car Margaret Harris was in. Witnesses said she got out of the passenger side, brandished a handgun and fired a single round over the top of the car, striking Sherrell in the abdomen, according to an arrest report.

With the crowd growing, Brittany said, "It's time to go. I heard a gunshot and saw him fall."

Margaret Harris and her family drove away. Police found the gun at the home of her mother, Linda Harris, the arrest report stated.

A black Ford Focus with blankets tucked in all of the side windows sat out in the grass Saturday outside Linda Harris' house. A bullet hole is visible on the left rear side of the car. The windshield is smashed in.

Margaret Harris told police she fired a gun but did not admit to shooting Sherrell.

Towanda Sherrell spent Saturday morning at Erlanger hospital and watched her son slip away, hooked up to machines in a hospital bed. Now she isn't sure how she will afford to bury him. She had a stack of fliers on her lap asking for donations.

She said she and Latoya Harris have cried on the phone with each other.

"She didn't have anything to do with it, but I tell her I can't talk to her. Her momma killed my baby. ... Why wouldn't you [Margaret Harris] call the police? Why would you be riding around with a gun?" she said.

Sherrell attended the Howard School of Academics and Technology. He planned on making it as rapper.

Linda Harris said the family is devastated about Sherrell's death.

"He was loved, and I hate this happened," she said. "I know they are grieving, and I'm grieving right along with them. I know there's anger and bitterness."