Another weekend marred by violence in Chattanooga ended with the mayor and police chief stating that those responsible will be brought to justice.
Their statements were in response to an incident early Sunday on McCallie Avenue that left three people dead - two as a result of gunshots and another who was hit by a vehicle feeling the scene. In all, 14 people were shot and three more were struck by a vehicle. There are both male and female victims, and one was a juvenile.
Police Chief Celeste Murphy said there were likely multiple shooters, and no one is in custody. The violence took place near the 2100 block of McCallie Avenue, and officials said they believed it was an isolated incident.
"This is once again a situation in which we find that we need help from the community," Murphy said at news conference Sunday morning. "We cannot do this by ourselves, and we're asking you for help. This is clearly a tragic event for the families involved and the victims. So at this time, I definitely want to make sure that we extend our condolences and thoughts to the families and individuals that are experiencing this today."
Murphy asked for members of the public who may have information to call in tips at 423-643-5100 or via the department's new Atlas One app. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
Two calls came in overnight about shots fired or a person being shot on McCallie, according to police dispatch records. A 2:37 a.m. call came from 2125 McCallie Ave., the address of Mary's Bar & Grill. The second call came one minute later, more generally from North Willow Street and McCallie Avenue, nearby.
In a video shared on Facebook, a large gathering of people can be seen in front of Mary's Bar & Grill, obstructing traffic. The video also shows a white Dodge Charger "smoke out" after which multiple shots can be heard. In the video, a woman is heard saying "they're shooting," then begins to scream desperately for her cousins and her brother.
At 8 a.m., police were still present on the scene, with a portion of multiple blocks taped off, including on McCallie from Willow Street down to an area near Parkridge Medical Center. Debris was present in the street on McCallie, and the investigation was visibly ongoing.
As of 2:30 p.m. Sunday, police were still conducting the investigation at Mary's Bar & Grill and the nearby area.
According to Murphy, it is too early to determine what type of weapons were used during the shooting. City officials did not provide updates on the victims who were taken to the hospital.
The shooting came a week after another mass shooting that left six teenagers injured in downtown Chattanooga. While police have made an arrest in that case, they are still searching for a second suspect.
During a second news conference, this one Sunday afternoon on the steps of City Hall, Murphy and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly said those responsible for the latest incident will be found and arrested.
"We know that many of the recent acts of violence in our community revolve around a very small few, often the same over and over again," Kelly said. "Here's my message: We will relentlessly pursue you with all the resources we have at our disposal we will not stop until you're in police custody."
The mayor also issued a warning to any potential copycats.
"To anyone thinking about turning to violence, do not do it. There will be tremendous consequences for you," Kelly said. "Our city will not tolerate people who feel that they are beyond the law."
Murphy said federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. District Attorney's Office have joined the investigation. She also said police will not rest until they find a solution for the families of the victims.
"Enough is enough," Murphy said. "The energy that we have will not stop until we gather information and make sure that we come to resolution for these victims and their families."
Crystal Simmons was part of a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America gathering on McCallie Avenue on Sunday, a block away from the site of the incident. Simmons was present to speak out against gun violence, and she said there is a better way to respond to disputes.
"They should be able to leave; you should be able to walk away," she said.
Simmons, who lost her son, Malik Sawyer, 18, to gun violence in 2019, also said she doesn't think the mayor's office is doing enough.
"We had this problem when my child got shot," Simmons said. "We had the problem when the shooting happened on the West Side. I didn't see anybody doing anything."
Gunfire killed two women on Chattanooga's Westside last September.
Simmons added she feels the response to the recent mass shootings is because the areas affected are close to tourist attractions. She also said it is easy for people to buy guns and stressed that social media can play a detrimental role in these situations.
"It's too easy to get guns, it's like wanting to buy Coca-Cola," Simmons said.