Chattanooga officer shoots burglary suspect

Chattanooga officer shoots burglary suspect

January 11th, 2012 in News

Christopher Upshaw, 25, ran onto Haynes Lane after a Chattanooga police officer shot him in the neck/face area Tuesday. Upshaw is one of two suspected burglars. Police were responding to a break-in at 4529 Hancock Road. Staff Photo by Beth Burger

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It was the loud boom that startled 53-year-old Lucy Smith from drinking a cup of coffee and watching TV in her duplex just after noon Tuesday.

"You could tell it was close," she said. "It was a loud-enough sound to jar you. ... I didn't know if they were breaking into my side or their side."

What Smith overheard was two intruders ransacking the other unit of the duplex. A responding police officer shot one of the intruders, both of whom were armed with handguns at the time, police said.

At least one of the men fired at the two responding officers. The shooting took place in the backyards of residences between Hancock Road and Haynes Lane off Jersey Pike, said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd.

Jeremichael Nicholson, 20, and Christopher Upshaw, 25, both were taken into custody and face charges of attempted murder, criminal conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated burglary, criminal conspiracy to commit burglary and aggravated assault, police said.

Upshaw was wounded in his neck and facial area by an officer returning fire, Dodd said, and was taken to Erlanger hospital where he was treated and listed in stable condition.

Neither of the responding officers was injured.

As of Tuesday night, a third suspect had been identified by police but was still at large. His name and description was not being released.

The police-involved shooting marks the sixth shooting with injuries so far this year in Chattanooga. One person -- 23-year-old Demarcus Husband -- has died.

Smith, who was unnerved by the loud boom, initially called her daughter after she peeked out her window and saw a strange car and young men. Then she called her landlord and, at his urging, called police. A dispatcher stayed on the line with her as police arrived and confronted Nicholson and Upshaw.

As she heard several rounds of gunfire, she fled to the protection of her bathroom, she said.

"I kind of broke down," Smith said. "[The dispatcher] stayed on the line with me and got me calmed down ... Most of the time this area is quiet. It's one of those things where you least expect it."

Upshaw was picked up first. Police found him in front of a residence on Haynes Lane, talking on a cellphone. Nicholson headed south into a wooded area and police dogs helped apprehend him a short time later.

Police ran a federal trace on both handguns to determine if they were stolen.

"It's possible the guns came out of the house," Dodd said at the scene. "The fact that they pulled a gun, it's crazy. It's not normal."

Both men have prior criminal records, according to Hamilton County court records. Upshaw had two prior theft charges, one of which resulted in a conviction, according to records. Both men have assault convictions.