Drive-by shooting of 17-year-old is Chattanooga's 11th homicide this year

Police link recent outbreak of violence to April 10 death of gang member at Sky Zoo nightclub

Police officers and citizens gather outside the emergency room at Erlanger Medical Center as it is on lockdown on Monday, Apr. 18, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. People gathered at the emergency room after a shooting victim was taken there at midday.

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A 17-year-old died Monday in a drive-by shooting, the latest victim after a weekend of violent gang activity.

Since Robert Jackson, a 22-year-old gang member, was killed April 10 while leaving the Sky Zoo night club, police have dealt with 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.

None were fatal - until Monday.

At 12:33 p.m., police received a report that someone inside a tan vehicle opened fire on a home in the 3100 block of Seventh Avenue. Police did not say how many bullets were fired, but one hit LaDarious Bush, who was inside the house with another person. He was transported to Erlanger hospital and died soon after arrival.

On scene, investigators placed about 10 yellow markers around a small green house cordoned off by police tape. Neighbors milled up and down the block. Some appeared astonished by the violence, others more used to it.

"They don't really know what's going on till they get in the prisons," said Zachary Scruggs, who lives nearby. When he heard the shots, the 57-year-old grabbed his cane and struggled outside. Up the street, he saw columns of ambulances and police cars.

Gang violence and retaliatory shootings are a nationwide issue, he told a neighbor and a reporter. He saw it in Philadelphia and California throughout the 1980s. Until a few years ago, though, he never saw it become so potent in Chattanooga.

"All this stuff doesn't make any sense," Scruggs said. "These kids do not have concepts or principles of life."

Police, who believe the shooting is gang-related, are searching for a black male wearing a white hoodie and driving a tan four-door sedan. They do not have a suspect yet, said Police Chief Fred Fletcher. But police believe there may have been two people in the vehicle.

Over the weekend, police beefed up security, hoping to prevent more violence in the city. Fletcher donned body armor and joined his officers for a Saturday night patrol.

During the day, they responded to O'Rear Street and found a woman bleeding from the neck. In the 2400 block of Taylor Street, they found a person with a gunshot wound in the leg. An hour later, a dog walker was shot in the hand.

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

To get ahead of the violence, police arrested eight people, either gang members or violent associates, largely on gun, public intoxication or evasion charges, records show. They pulled nine guns off the streets. They received 28 shots-fired calls from late Friday to early Sunday. They also located three of the vehicles that witnesses pointed out during the spate of weekend shootings.

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

Bush is the city's 11th homicide victim this year - and the youngest. To date, there have been 33 shootings in 2016, Miller said. There were 30 in 2015 and 33 in 2014.

Staff writers Steve Johnson and Shelly Bradbury contributed to this story. Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeter or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow @zackpeterson918.