Weekend shootings leave one dead; injure six in Chattanooga

Weekend shootings leave one dead; injure six in Chattanooga

July 5th, 2011 by Kate Harrison Belz in News

Gregory Brown, 59, who is charged with aggravated domestic assault and cruelty to animals.

Weekend violence

JULY 3

12 a.m., Walt's Bar, 6238 Bonny Oaks Drive - Ralph Higgins told police that he was sitting in the bar's parking lot when a man approached him and demanded his wallet. When Higgins refused, the assailant shot him in the abdomen. Higgins said the man then got into a small 4-door brown car and left the scene. Higgins described the suspect as a black man between 4 feet 11 inches and 5 feet 1 inch tall who was wearing a brown shirt.

1:03 a.m., 909 Crutchfield St. - Two men were shot at a large house party near Amnicola Highway. Reginald Locklin told police that he was working as a bouncer when two men among the partygoers began provoking the crowd. Locklin said he was walking toward the men to make them leave when one pulled a gun and began shooting. A bullet tore through one of his legs and lodged in the other. A second man, Brandon Robinson, said he was shot in the foot while he was being patted down to enter the party. The bullet that hit him is believed to have grazed his heel. Locklin described the black man who shot him as 6 feet, 1 inch, wearing a brown button-down shirt and jean shorts with dreads or plates pulled back into a short ponytail. Neither Locklin nor Robinson could give a description of the second suspect.

10:21 p.m., 818 B Arlington Ave. - Melvin "Brando" Fennell, 25, was killed and Calvin Garner, 24, and Mariah Stoudemire, 21, were injured after a gunman approached the duplex, asked for Fennell, and then opened fire on him as he came to the door. Fennel was shot multiple times in the chest while the two other victims, who were sitting on the porch, were shot in the lower part of their bodies. Fennel died during emergency surgery at Erlanger hospital. Garner and Stoudemire are listed in stable condition. The suspect is described as a tall, light-skinned black man wearing all black. No motive has yet been established.

10:45 p.m., 1100-A Sheridan Ave. - Police say Gregory Brown, 59, brutally beat his girlfriend, 54-year-old Laverne Brundidge. Brown repeatedly punched Brundidge in the face and rammed her head onto the concrete floor of her apartment, according to police. Brundidge said the beating went on for nearly an hour until Brown got tired and went outside where neighbors saw him covered in blood. He then dragged his pit bull outside and punched the dog in the face, police said. Brown has been charged with aggravated domestic assault and cruelty to animals.

JULY 4

12:22 p.m., undetermined - Timothy Hodges called police at 3624 Saluda Street from his home after being shot at an undetermined location in Hixson. Hodges told police that he was robbed at gunpoint and shot at the Bank of America located near Gadd Road. At some point during the confrontation, Hodges was shot in the leg. Police say they question Hodges' story and are currently trying to locate the exact location on the incident and get more information on the suspect.

Source: Chattanooga Police Department

Fireworks crackled up and down Arlington Avenue on Monday afternoon as children played with snappers and sparklers. The night before it had been gunshots ringing out in the street, killing a 25-year-old father of five and injuring two others.

The triple shooting was the third in four shooting incidents that broke out in Chattanooga in 36 hours over the holiday weekend, leaving Melvin "Brando" Fennell dead and six others injured. The shootings spanned from Bonny Oaks to Amnicola Highway to Hixson. No suspect names have been released in any of the shootings.

Just a few blocks away from the triple shooting, a woman was beaten brutally by her boyfriend Sunday night, police said. The woman was treated and released from a local hospital.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jerri Weary said investigators don't believe any of the incidents are related, and she could not confirm if any are gang related.

But she did say the high rate of bloodshed is nothing new.

"We've seen that already this year," she said, referring to the concentration of violent incidents in such a short span. "Unfortunately it's not really anything new at this point."

Fennell's death marks the 15th homicide for the year, according to Chattanooga police. Thirteen of those slayings this year have been shooting deaths. In 2010, there were 20 homicides, and 15 of those were shooting deaths.

Weary said the hot weather and holiday events could have been factors in this weekend's rash of violence.

"We see a lot of incidents happen on July Fourth," Weary said. "There are more people out on the holidays, it's hot outside, tempers flare, and it can come back to that."

Last year, three people were shot - two fatally - in Chattanooga during 4th of July weekend.

City Councilman Peter Murphy, who represents District 9 where three of the violent incidents occurred over the weekend, said the city isn't doing enough to stop and prevent crime.

"I've asked the chief of police to help me find a city with similar demographics to Chattanooga that has a better crime rate, that's doing something differently than we are, and I don't mean just by policing, I mean globally," he said Sunday.

"I'm working to figure out what the best approach is for us moving forward, and I invite all interested citizens to help leadership and to help their neighborhoods find solutions to what is very senseless violence," he said.

Kevin Carson said he still hasn't made sense of the bloody beating of his neighbor, Laverne Brundidge, 54, suffered at the hands of a man police identified as her boyfriend Gregory Brown, 59.

"When he came out of the house he was all bloodied up," he said. "Her head was swollen to the max."

A few blocks away, Darius Blakemore and his friends were sitting in front of the duplex where their friend "Brando" Fennell had been killed, trying to come to terms with what had happened the night before. Blood still stained the porch steps, with bleach sitting out nearby.

"It was horrible when I found out last night," said Blakemore, who said he grew up with Fennell in the neighborhood. "I've been trying to get it off my mind all day." He said he'd completely forgotten about any kind of holiday celebrations.

Blakemore said Fennell had five children with his longtime girlfriend and was looking for work.

Fennell's adult criminal record includes more than 20 charges stretching back to 2005, ranging from assault and vandalism to disorderly conduct.

At the time of his death, he was completing three months' probation for drug possession.

Still, Blakemore said he doesn't believe Fennell could have made any serious enemies.

"He was a family guy. I don't know who'd be out to get him," he said.

On Fennell's driveway, someone had written in blue spray paint: "RIP Brando," and on the street: "The hood love ya."

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.