Chattanooga police chief: Malfunctioning camera not stalling McCallie Avenue shooting investigation

A city camera at an intersection near the 2100 block of McCallie Avenue was malfunctioning at the time of a shooting Sunday, but Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy said it is not stalling the investigation.

"We still have very good leads that are leading us towards identification of the suspects in that matter, but that's a problem that I had to hold on to and we're going to fix in the future," Murphy told members of Chattanooga City Council on Tuesday during the panel's first regular meeting since the shooting.

The incident after 2 a.m. Sunday left three people dead and 14 injured. Two died from gunshots and another was hit by a vehicle while fleeing the gunfire. Police have declined to release names of any of the victims.

It was Chattanooga's second consecutive weekend shooting, the first of which injured six teenagers in the city's tourism district May 28. A 15-year-old has been arrested in that shooting.

Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod, of Eastdale, mentioned the camera during the chief's presentation to the City Council. Murphy said the department is looking at alternative measures to make sure the city is able to reinstall cameras quicker.

"We have more cameras ordered that we should be getting soon," she said. "So again let me reiterate that unfortunate as that is, we still have enough leads that are very, very active at this point that we're following that should give us some resolution."

During the summer, Murphy said, her department will have an increased presence around the city's entertainment zones and downtown area. Police will also work with the mayor's office to create safe paths for children, she said. Murphy added police hope to identify a suspect in the McCallie Avenue shooting soon.

"We do not have enough to identify that person wholeheartedly, but we're looking into all leads, and I just need everybody to understand that," Murphy said. "Whatever the motivation was for this, we're looking into that, and whatever charges are applicable for the incident, we will do that."

Council members also heard from residents during the public comment section of the meeting. James Brantley said he was shocked and dismayed by videos he's seen online that showed a large number of people on McCallie Avenue in front of Parkridge Medical Center that evening.

"(They were) doing donuts in the road, all kinds of chaos," he said. "Over 100 people just having a wonderful time, chaos ensuing. I cannot believe that there was no police presence before that incident happened. I am quite concerned because I live very close to that area."

He's also concerned about the camera being down at the time of the shooting.

"I got lots of footage on my own camera," he said. "I almost can't believe the city and all the money we spend in taxes and all we spend in this area that we don't have cameras in that area. It's unbelievable."

Activist Marie Mott said the people who pulled the trigger Sunday are without question responsible for the violence, but she asked council members to identify responsibility for the overall safety of residents.

"If it's the police, you're telling me $84 million and more police on the streets than most American cities can't ensure Black people are safe," Mott said. "We have been failed by leadership time and time again that is also quick to blame us but yet remain silent when you have failed at your job."

Joe Jenkins, founder and CEO of a re-entry program called the Brave Effect, offered his assistance to city leaders.

"I can't say what the city hasn't done if I haven't brought myself to the floor and offered an invitation and said, 'Hey, here I am. I'm available,'" Jenkins said. "If I can help to build the men and women with the Brave Effect program, then it trickles down into those households where the youth are coming up as well as the young adults."

Police are urging anyone with any information about the shooting Sunday to call 423-643-5100 or submit a tip via the Atlas One App. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Contact David Floyd at or at 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @flavid_doyd.

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