Police seek clues in Sky Zoo shooting

photo Robert Jackson, seen here in a jail booking photo, was shot to death on April 10, 2016, in a parking lot near Sky Zoo on Lee Highway.

A childhood friend on Sunday remembered the man shot to death at a Chattanooga bar as a well-liked person and a good father.

Robert Jackson III "was someone that everyone truly loved in the neighborhood," said LD Mitchell, 26, who grew up with Jackson in the Piney Woods area of South Chattanooga. "He's going to be truly missed by everyone."

Jackson, 22, was killed early Sunday morning in the parking lot outside the Sky Zoo on Lee Highway, a Chattanooga police news release said.

Officers on patrol heard gunfire near the Sky Zoo around 2:35 a.m. and found Jackson in the parking lot, the release stated. Officers tried to aid Jackson, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A bar employee said Sunday the shooting actually happened on the other side of a fence from the parking lot. The worker spoke on condition of anonymity and said any official comment from Sky Zoo would have to come later in the week from the general manager.

Police did not release any suspect information Sunday. The release asked anyone who was at Sky Zoo at the time of the shooting or anyone with information to call 423-698-5129.

Mitchell remembered Jackson as a kid with a good heart who became a good father to a young daughter.

The two had known each other since Jackson was just 4 or 5 years old. Mitchell lives in Murfreesboro now and said he hadn't seen his friend for more than a year.

That didn't soften the blow of Sunday's news.

"It devastated me," Mitchell said. "We've already lost a few people from my neighborhood. It definitely puts a stake in our hearts to know that we've lost another young person from our neighborhood.

"I cried. It hurts. It's still fresh, and I'm still lost on what happened. No one seems to know. But I really felt like whatever situation it was, that it didn't warrant a death sentence."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.