Shots fired as 300 teenagers fight at Coolidge

Shots fired as 300 teenagers fight at Coolidge

March 19th, 2011 by Kate Harrison Belz in News

Staff photo by Chattanooga Times Free Press

A fight that broke out among an estimated 300 young people at Coolidge Park on Saturday night is all too similar to a fight that happened in the park almost a year ago, Chattanooga police said.

It's not clear what the fight was about, but police on the scene heard five to seven shots shortly before 10 p.m., said police Sgt. Rick Mincy, patrol supervisor for North Chattanooga.

By 10:30 p.m. Saturday, no injuries had been reported, and police still were looking for the shooter, who was believed to be armed with a .38-caliber handgun.

Mincy said at least 85 percent of the crowd were teens, though young children were in the crowd.

"It was a just a huge group of unsupervised kids, and tensions just flared. It was a recipe for disaster," Mincy said.

A juvenile was taken into custody for attempting to attack an officer, according to Mincy, who tackled the suspect.

Cousins LaKeyila Hyter, 15, and Neenee Coby, 8, said they had been dropped off by a relative.

"I heard them fire those shots, and I just ducked under a car," Hyter said.

"I just ran in the other direction," Coby said.

Mincy said it was too early to tell whether gang activity was involved.

He likened the fracas to a similar fight involving 200 to 250 people on March 28, 2010.

They had gathered in response to Facebook and text messages. Police moved in to break up the rowdy crowd, and someone pulled a gun and started shooting, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.

As the crowd scattered along River Street, bullets hit five people in the legs. None of the injuries were fatal.

In 2010, police charged Anthony Frieson, 18, and Taurean Patillo, 18.

Frieson was charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated assault and one count of felony reckless endangerment.

Patillo was charged with five counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a weapon. A juvenile also was charged in the incident.