3 hours, 3 shootings, 2 deaths: 2015 was young when shooting started; Chattanooga's first killings come on heels of a bloody 2014

Desiree Witcher, center, stands with police as she prepares to remove belongings from a duplex that was the scene of a fatal shooting early the morning of Thursday, Jan. 1, at 4115 Dorris St. in Chattanooga. Three separate shootings in the morning of New Year's Day left two dead and another in critical condition.


12:20 a.m.: Deoaunte Dean, 24, is killed in his home at 4115 Dorris St. 2:44 a.m.: Reginald Lewis, 31, arrives at a hospital with a gunshot wound that he sustained near 3100 Brainerd Road. He is expected to survive. 3 a.m.: Juan Boyd, 18, is killed while sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot of Waffle House at 4903 Brainerd Road. Source: Chattanooga Police Department

photo The Waffle House at 4903 Brainerd Road is the site of a fatal shooting that happened early the morning of Thursday in Chattanooga. Three separate shootings in the morning of New Year's Day left two dead and another in critical condition.


Cases are usually considered "cleared" when a suspect is arrested for the crime. 2014 - 59 percent *to date 2013 - 74 percent 2012 - 83 percent 2011 - 72 percent Source: Chattanooga Police Department


1) Jan. 5 - Charles Brown IV, 27 2) Jan. 21 - Deontrey Southers, 13 3) Jan. 28 - Raphael White, 25 4) Feb. 1 - Charles Jones, 23 5) Feb. 1 - Robert McClure, 24 6) March 1 - Warren T. Ransom, 33 7) March 22 - Demarcus Bryant, 23 months 8) April 3 - Daniel Adams, 44 9) April 11 - Darius Eugene Hinton, 25 10) May 5 - James Fredrick, 54 11) May 13 - Keiara Patton, 20 12) May 21 - DeSean Pierce, 22 13) June 7 - Inez Burney, 21 14) June 8 - Frances Smith, 40 15) June 25 - Wesley Alvin Eaves, 49 16) June 25 - Cedric Mikes, 32 17) June 25 - Charles James King, 42 18) July 5 - Steven Bell, 65 19) July 10 - Dominic Wright, 22 20) July 27 - Jeffery Jackson, 23 21) Aug. 26 - Tatiana Emerson, 3 22) Sept. 7 - Jasmine Akins, 19, 23) Oct. 20 - Apprentice Dewayne Berry, 20 24) Oct. 22 - Kenny Hall, 24 25) Oct. 27 - Terrence Lebron Bivens, 28 26) Nov. 11 - Kenneth Johnson, 59 27) Dec. 15 - Paul Brian Rector, 38

When Joe Blake's granddaughter called him just a few minutes after midnight Thursday to wish him a happy New Year, everything seemed normal.

But three or four minutes later she called back, screaming.

"She said, 'Granddaddy, hurry, come over here, they shooting up my house," he said.

Her fiance, Deoaunte Dean, 24, was killed in the gunfire, bullets slamming into the house at 4115 Dorris St. through a window in the front.

"It was a shock," said a family friend who asked not to be identified. The Howard High alum left five children behind, the friend said.

"He was a good dad," Blake said. "He just got a new job he was going to start on Friday."

Dean was the first person to be slain in Chattanooga in 2015 and his death was quickly followed by more violence early New Year's Day.

Around 2:45 a.m., 31-year-old Reginald Lewis Jr. arrived at a hospital after he was shot near 3100 Brainerd Road. Police said he is expected to survive his injuries.

But 15 minutes after Lewis arrived at the hospital, police responded to another shooting this time in the parking lot of the Waffle House at 4903 Brainerd Road and found Juan Boyd, 18, shot dead in a vehicle.

That's three shootings and two deaths in the first three hours of 2015. It's too early to say for sure whether the shootings were connected, but police say they're investigating that possibility.

The violence underscored a bloody year while overall shootings were down by about 10 percent in 2014 compared to 2013, the city recorded more homicides in 2014 than any year since at least 2001, Times Free Press archives show.

The 14-year-high of 27 homicides is still significantly lower than the peaks Chattanooga saw in the 1990s. But it's an unacceptably high number, said Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

Police expected some of the violence on New Year's and had a plan in place to combat it, he said. Police used gun violence statistics from last year to identify five hotspots where violence was likely on New Year's Eve, Fletcher said.

The hotspots included the 38th Street corridor, Wilcox Boulevard and Highland Park, he said. Fletcher asked officers to focus on those areas: patrolling, knocking on doors and being as visible as possible.

"The guys worked really hard at it," Fletcher said. "In fact, one of my sergeants went right by the Dorris house minutes before the shooting occurred. So we were doing what we intended to do, but apparently it wasn't as big of a deterrent effect as we hoped."

Police specifically knew that Boyd could be a target, said Capt. Tommy Woods. In the hours before the 18-year-old was killed, officers were trying to find the teenager to warn him, Woods said.

"We just didn't get a chance to locate him," Woods said.

Of the 27 people killed in Chattanooga during 2014, the youngest was not quite 2 years old and the oldest was 65 years old. The majority of the victims 19 were killed by gunfire. Five of those slain were female.

Including both fatal and nonfatal shootings, there were 112 shootings in Chattanooga during 2014, compared to 123 such shootings in 2013. At least 68 of last year's shootings were gang-related. That's down from 2013, when 83 shootings were determined to be gang-related.

Fletcher said he's planning several changes to police tactics in 2015 that he hopes will drive down the number of shootings and homicides.

First, he plans to hire three new crime analysts for the police department so that officers can better track and understand when and why crime happens. Also, the department will refocus on both repeat offenders and repeat victims in 2015, Fletcher said.

"If you're getting shot multiple times, maybe you're doing something to be involved in shootings," Fletcher said. "So we're going to double down on targeting our efforts toward repeat victims."

One of Thursday's victims, Juan Boyd, had been shot in the face earlier this year, Times Free Press archives show.

Additionally, Fletcher plans to change the way the investigations division is organized so that units that deal with violent crime from robberies to homicides will be under the same chain of command and can work more closely together.

"We're going to try absolutely everything," Fletcher said. "This level of violence is unacceptable."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.


2014: 27 2013: 19 2012: 24 2011: 25 2010: 20 2009: 11 2008: 20 2007: 16 2006: 19 2005: 23 2004: 16 2003: 24 2002: 21 2001: 26 Source: Chattanooga Police Department, Times Free Press archives