Chattanooga teen still in critical condition after drive-by shooting

Chattanooga teen still in critical condition after drive-by shooting

October 18th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

The remnants of tattered yellow crime scene tape still mark a fence post.

Various graffiti, including the word "Blood," marks a nearby mailbox, just a few doors down from where a drive-by shooting on Fagan Street left two teen boys hospitalized Saturday night.

"These kids weren't in a gang. They were just walking by," said a 21-year-old man who pulled in front of the residence Monday afternoon where a 17-year-old was shot in the thigh and a 15-year-old was shot in the neck and leg.

"They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time," said the man, who did not give his name.

The 15-year-old boy remains in critical condition at a local hospital, said Chattanooga police Sgt. Jerri Weary.

Their names have not been released because they're juveniles.

She said she has not received any information from investigators indicating the shooting was gang-related. At the time of the shooting, police were talking with a witness to obtain suspect information.

This year, 14 out of the 22 homicides in the city of Chattanooga have been gang-related, according to authorities.

Of eight people interviewed in the neighborhood about the shooting, none admitted to knowing anything about what happened, and none would give their name.

"I keep to myself. I mind my own business," one man said.

On Sunday, a 19-year-old cousin to one of the teens, Leonta Epps, was arrested a few doors down in front of a home that police have been keeping an eye on, according to an arrest report.

Police interviewed Epps after they received a call of a suspicious person. When they conducted a patdown of Epps, they seized a loaded 9mm Ruger handgun tucked into his waistband.

Epps told officers he was carrying the gun because his cousin was shot the day before.

Epps was arrested on charges of unlawful carrying of a weapon and criminal trespassing. As of Monday, he remained in Hamilton County Jail on a $10,000 bond.

He has other pending cases in Hamilton County Criminal Court for aggravated assault and assault, according to court records.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.