Shootings lend sense of urgency to gang summit

Shootings lend sense of urgency to gang summit

March 10th, 2011 by Yolanda Putman in News


  • What: Gang summit
  • When: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Tivoli Theatre
  • Admission: Free
  • Registration required: Register online or call 752-4449 ext. 3


  • Friday: Ronald Blackmon Jr., 25, was shot in the head while standing near Sheridan Avenue and Wilson Street. He died the next day. Two 18-year-old men have been arrested in connection with the shooting. Police said all three have gang ties.
  • Friday: A 3-year-old boy and Prandell Haynes, 20, were inside an apartment at 2300 Wilson St. when a gunman walked up and fired about five rounds through a window. The boy's leg was injured and Haynes was struck in the left hand. Police described Haynes as a documented gang member.
  • Sunday: Darrell Paris, 22, was shot in the stomach with a 16-gauge, sawed-off shotgun at 1329 Cypress Street Court. His injuries were not life-threatening, police said.
  • Monday: A man suffered a graze wound to the leg in a shooting at 2302 Windsor St.

Five people have been shot - one of them fatally - in the last week, and advocates are calling on the Chattanooga community to pull together to stop the bloodshed.

"Unless we take steps to help these kids, we're going to find ourselves in a bloodbath," said James Moreland, chairman of East Chattanooga Weed and Seed.

The nonprofit organization, which is using federal money to try to reduce crime in the neighborhood, is asking youths, parents, elected officials, police officers, teachers, churches and community leaders to participate in a citywide gang summit at the Tivoli Theatre on Saturday.

Summit participants are gathering a week after 25-year-old Ronald Blackmon Jr. died from a gunshot to the head in an apparent case of mistaken identity. Police said his killing, the fourth homicide of the year, was gang-related.

Of the four shootings in the last week, two were believed to be gang-related, according to police. However, the surge in gun violence has sparked a sense of urgency and fear.

"Children can't play outdoors anymore," said Dorothy Roberts, an East Lake Courts resident and grandmother. "They can't even play in the house because bullets come through the doors."

A 3-year-old boy and Prandell Haynes, 20, were inside an apartment at 2300 Wilson St. on Friday when a gunman approached on foot and fired about five rounds through a window.

The boy was struck in the leg. Haynes, whom police described as a documented gang member, was struck in the left hand.

That shooting came about eight hours after Blackmon was critically wounded.


At Saturday's summit, Chattanooga police officers will give an overview of gang symbols that could help parents determine if their child is involved in a gang and give advice for getting youth out of it.

Police also will share information about which gangs are most prevalent in what areas. Harriet Tubman Express will air "The Gang Thang," an anti-gang video featuring Chattanooga gang members speaking from prison. Darryl Smith, national director of Student Venture, the high school and junior high ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, will give the keynote address.

Local resident Doris Conner said she hopes young people will listen to the information given at the summit.

"They think they're going to make a name for themselves by being in a gang," she said. "Gangs lead to nothing but destruction and death."

She said her daughter was a Compton Crip in Compton, Calif., for about five years in the late '80s when she was a young teenager. Conner said her daughter got out of the gang after members of a rival gang beat her up and dragged her body face down on a railroad track.


Gang-related crime in Chattanooga has more than tripled from 2007, when police recorded 67 such crimes, to 2009 when police reports showed 237 crimes involving gangs.

The number of gang-related crimes dropped to 208 in 2010.

That was the year the Chattanooga Police Department doubled its crime suppression unit to 10 officers, said Sgt. Todd Royval, who heads the department's crime suppression unit. He will give a presentation at Saturday's summit.

Moreland said it takes everyone working together to deal with the problem.

"Different parties are looking for other people to heal this, but we've got to stop pointing fingers, bring all parties together and put together a strategy to deal with this," he said.