Man shot, killed at Big K gas station on Dodson Avenue

Man shot, killed at Big K gas station on Dodson Avenue

April 16th, 2019 by Rosana Hughes in Breaking News

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / People enter K Market on Dodson Avenue on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. A fatal shooting occurred outside the store Monday evening.

Updated at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, with information about Talley in custody.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / The street is seen from inside K Market on Dodson Avenue on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. A fatal shooting occurred outside the store Monday evening.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / The street...

UPDATEDeontae Talley is now in custody, according to a news release from the Chattanooga Police Department.

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ORIGINAL STORY: The Big K gas station at 909 Dodson Ave. was abuzz with business Tuesday morning.

Just a day earlier, it had been the scene of a shooting that left 32-year-old Tymetric Graham dead. Now police are looking for the man suspected of killing him.

Police say the shooting happened just before 7 p.m. Monday in front of the gas station after Graham and 29-year-old Deontae Talley got into an altercation.

Talley fled the scene. Graham was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

It's not clear what led to the altercation. And while both men are known gang members, Chattanooga police spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said the shooting does not appear to be gang motivated.

Deontae Talley

Deontae Talley

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Talley is now wanted on charges of criminal homicide and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Friends and family of Graham took to social media to mourn his death.

"Im lost," one man wrote. "People keep asking if I'm ok but [I don't know] what I am right now. I just talked to [Graham] a few days ago. We made plans. He was really tryna stay straight. He wanted to be better for his kids. I'm really not one to ask anyone for anything but if someone could shoot a Prayer up for my family I'd appreciate it."

At the gas station Tuesday, employees and customers were reluctant to talk about the incident and declined to identify themselves out of concern for their safety, but witnesses said they heard between four and six shots and saw Graham lying on the ground by a gas pump.

The owner of the gas station and the liquor store located on the same lot said his business was shut down from 7 p.m. until after closing time.

His family has owned the businesses for the past 40 years, and the shutdown "easily cost one-third of the day's business," he said.

The gas station has had violent incidents in the past, but not often, the man said.

"There need to be more police in the area," he said.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / A section of the K Market store on Dodson Avenue where employees say a person was killed in 2011 is seen on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. A fatal shooting occurred outside the store Monday evening.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / A section...

A police vehicle was parked across the street at the Faye's Quick Stop & Mart, but the business owner said police "come and park there at the wrong time. Not when they need to be."

But perched on a light pole in the right-hand corner of the parking lot is a real-time intelligence police camera. The cameras stream live video back to the police department on Amnicola Highway, and investigators used that footage to identify the suspect, Myzal said.

While identifying a suspect is welcome news, a gas station store employee who has worked there for 14 years said it's scary when violence happens right outside the door.

"You see these people every day and then you just see their life just taken away," she said. "It's hard."

She's seen young boys grow up and, for better or for worse, turn into young men.

"There was this little one he used to come in here and steal little candy, you know," she said. "They're kids. [They] come here, steal ice cream. So I was like, 'Ah-uh, give me that ice cream.' And that little boy killed a kid. He's in jail right now."

Monday wasn't the first time she and others who live and work nearby were faced with tragedy.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / A man rides a bicycle past K Market on Dodson Avenue on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. A fatal shooting occurred outside the store Monday evening.

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / A man...

In May 2011, 53-year-old Herbert Strickland was shot and killed inside the gas station.

"He just came in to make some coffee," the employee said.

Strickland was known for being a regular at the store, a neighborhood hangout. He often bought his morning coffee, doughnuts and lottery tickets there and would scratch off the tickets in the parking lot.

Antonio Dejong Espey Jr. was arrested in connection to that killing four months later based on video evidence and a witness statement.

Nearly a year later in July 2012, that witness, 45-year-old Barbara Johnson, was shot and killed while walking down Rawlings Street. Neighborhood residents claimed she was gunned down by members of the 52 Hoover Crips because she was labeled as an informant, the Times Free Press previously reported.

By mid-2013, Espey's charges were dismissed.

That culture of retaliation still inspires fear among community members, and hampers investigations because no one wants to come forward. Though, police have been working to gain their trust.

"The community trusts them," the gas station employee said, explaining that who they don't trust is the bad actors in their own neighborhoods.

"That is the problem," she said. "Even if people trust [police], people don't want to say anything because they live here. You gotta wake up every morning. You gotta see these people."

Still, police say they think the mindset is changing because people are seeing their information being put to use when they see an arrest is made.

"We are utilizing [their] information and we are trying to keep it as secret as possible so that they can feel safe with providing the information," homicide investigator Zachary Crawford previously told the Times Free Press. "We're able to use their information and make arrests and we clear cases and get answers to these families."

Graham's death marks the city's 10th homicide of 2019. By this time last year, there had been four.

Anyone with information about this incident or Talley's whereabouts is asked to call the homicide tip line at 423-643-5100 or submit a tip via the CPD Mobile App. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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


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