Suspect arrested, charged with homicide in Cowart Street shooting

Incident leading to Sunday's death likely began at Coyote Jack's nightclub on Chattanooga's Southside

Roddarius Martin
photo Roddarius Martin

Chattanooga police arrested a man Monday night in connection with a deadly Sunday morning shooting near Coyote Jack's nightclub downtown.

Roddarius Martin, 24, is charged with criminal homicide, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment.

Victor Miller, homicide division supervisor for the Chattanooga Police Department, said on Monday morning evidence suggested the incident that resulted in the death of 22-year-old Sharone Porter began as an argument involving the victims inside the nightclub at 1400 Cowart St.

"The information and evidence that we have at this time leads us to believe that the incident started at Coyote Jack's and when they exited and went to a different parking lot is where the actual shooting occurred," he said.

Tammie Taylor, co-owner of the club, originally said the shooter was not a patron of the club and was not on its property. However, in a statement released Monday afternoon, Daniel Weaver, spokesman for the club, said their preliminary statement was provided by witnesses and employees.

"Our preliminary statement was not meant to be misleading nor a false statement," Weaver said.

He said there were no fights or people being asked to leave the night of the incident.

"This particular 'verbal altercation' that took place came as a surprise as our security staff and management, including myself, were all patrolling the building, and nothing stood out," Weaver said. "You might say it was a perfect night of fun and entertainment up until the point that this incident happened."

All guests were asked to leave at 2:40 a.m., he said. Management was asked to "hold the crowd" after the shooting took place at 2:47 a.m., but Weaver said everyone had left the building by 2:55 a.m.

Weaver said the club will continue operation as normal but will take "aggressive steps to tighten up security," and operators plan to ask Republic Parking to have an officer present in the parking lot across the street from the club.

Sharone Porter's brother, 24-year-old Torrie Porter, was hurt in the shooting, but his injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.

photo The Chattanooga Police Department's Homocide Unit Supervisor Sgt. Victor Miller asks the public for any information on a Southside shooting early Sunday morning in a press briefing Monday at the CPD headquarters on Amnicola.
photo The Chattanooga Police Department's Homocide Unit Supervisor Sgt. Victor Miller asks the public for any information on a Southside shooting early Sunday morning in a press briefing Monday at the CPD headquarters on Amnicola.

A woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, said she was walking out of the club at the same time as both victims and the shooter.

She said she heard two groups of people arguing in the parking lot and then a gunshot. She saw who she believes was Torrie Porter hopping away after being hit. Then she saw Sharone Porter get in front of the shooter, and that's when he got shot, she said. But she said he still tried to tackle the shooter to take the gun away.

"He didn't get the guy down, so the guy shot him again," the woman said. "When he shot him again, the shooter's friends told him to get in the car, and he jumped in the car and ran off."

At that point, she said, Torrie Porter came back screaming, "They shot my brother! They shot my brother!"

She said she ran toward Sharone Porter and called 911. Police arrived within minutes.

"But he was lying on the ground bleeding from his chest," she said. "People were holding him, telling him, 'Keep your eyes open! Talk to us! Breathe! Hold on!'"

The woman said she and her group of friends saw Sharone Porter inside the club "just dancing and enjoying himself."

"I've never, ever witnessed any shootings or anyone being shot or killed. It's bothering me real bad. I keep replaying it in my head and thinking if, maybe the argument never happened, or everybody just walked away from it, he would still be alive."

Earlier this year, the club was put on lockdown after a shooting outside in May, according to WRCB-TV Channel 3. Police said a man fired multiple shots into the air, possibly toward a crowd of people and one at the side of the building.

Coyote Jack's, formerly known as Bella Vita, was the site of two shootings as that business - one of which was fatal - in 2016. It had the same owners: Ronnie Berke and Taylor. Berke is a local attorney and uncle of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

On March 13, 2016, 35-year-old Reuben Simpson was shot in the head in the early morning on Cowart Street, near the restaurant. Police said his wounds were considered minor. Two months later, 40-year-old Johnny Sanders, a security guard, was fatally shot in the upper chest at the location. Andrew Wilson, 31, was arrested and charged with criminal homicide.

Martin, the suspect in Sunday morning's homicide, has an arrest record in Hamilton County from earlier this year, records show. His previous charges include theft of property and possession of a weapon with intent to go armed.

Anyone with information about Monday's incident can call 423-643-5100.

Staff writer Emmett Gienapp contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.