17-year-old killed in drive-by as wave of violence continues

Chattanooga police offers Sgt. Heather Williams, left, and Tray McGhee investigate a shooting Monday, April 18, 2016 at the intersection of 7th Avenue and 31st Street. A 17-year-old male who was inside the home was killed.

A 17-year-old was fatally shot today in a drive-by shooting following a violent weekend of gang activity.

After Robert Jackson, a 22-year-old gang member, was killed April 10 while leaving the Sky Zoo night club, police said they have seen a wave of violent backlashes.

Five shootings erupted over the weekend, three of which happened Saturday while Jackson's family laid him to rest. Several were drive-by shootings that involved three or four of the same vehicles, police said.

The sixth shooting happened today, when police were notified at 12:33 p.m. that a 17-year-old was shot inside a home in the 3100 block of 7th Avenue. He was transported to Erlanger hospital and died two hours later, police said.

WRCB's Kelly McCarthy reported that the victim was shot in the face while playing video games inside his home.

As a precautionary move, the hospital shut down its adult emergency center to visitors, spokeswoman Pat Charles said.

It's unknown how many bullets the shooters fired today, but investigators on scene placed upwards of 10 yellow markers around a small green house cordoned by police tape.

Police, who believe the shooting is gang-motivated, are searching for a black male wearing a white hoodie and driving a tan four-door sedan. They do not have a suspect yet, Police Chief Fred Fletcher said from the scene.

As a result of the shootings, police arrested eight people, mostly on gun, intoxication or evasion charges, in an attempt to head off more violence. Those arrested are either gang members or violent associates, said Fletcher, who donned body armor Saturday and joined his officers on night patrol.

"We are as tired of it as this community is," Fletcher said today. "They have said, 'Not in our town. Not here.'"

The continued gang violence has raised questions about the effectiveness of the city's Violence Reduction Initiative, which was originally touted as a solution to the toll that shootings have taken on Chattanooga.

The 17-year-old is the city's 11th homicide victim this year, and no one has been charged with any of the killings. To date, there have been 33 shootings in 2016, said police spokesman Kyle Miller. There were 30 in 2015 and 33 in 2014.

From late Friday to early Sunday, police pulled nine guns off the streets, Fletcher said. They have also located three of the vehicles that witnesses pointed out during the spasm of weekend shootings.

As a result, police have identified "persons of interest," Miller said - but they need more evidence before they can issue a warrant. A person becomes a suspect once they are formally charged.

This is a developing story. Check tomorrow's Times Free Press for more details.