Man arrested in connection to February shots fired call at Coyote Jack's nightclub

Man arrested in connection to February shots fired call at Coyote Jack's nightclub

March 14th, 2019 by Rosana Hughes in Breaking News

Updated at 7:35 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, 2019, with more information.

Brandon Rogers

Brandon Rogers

A man was arrested Wednesday in connection to a shots fired call outside downtown nightclub Coyote Jacks on Feb. 24.

Brandon Rogers, 18 and a known gang member, is accused of firing shots as he and his brother, 27-year-old Brendon Rogers, allegedly drove by the establishment at 1400 Cowart Street, according to Hamilton County court records.

Chattanooga police were called to the scene at around 3 a.m. and spoke to a witness who said he saw the Rogers brothers in a silver Chevrolet Malibu just before one of them opened fire, court records show. But the witness couldn't tell which brother pulled the trigger.

At the scene, police officers recovered eight .40 caliber shell casings and two 9mm casings, court records state.

Then on March 5, gang unit investigators were on routine patrol in the area of the 25 block of South Germantown Road when they spotted a black Ford Fusion "with tint so dark we could not see inside the vehicle," according to an arrest report from that incident.

Investigators stopped the vehicle in the 3600 block of Chateau Lane and spoke to the driver, 26-year-old William Jones, Jr., the report states. Brandon Rogers (the younger brother) was a passenger.

Officers "immediately smelled a strong odor of marijuana" and asked if anyone had been smoking, to which Jones replied, "Yeah, earlier."

Police then asked Jones and Brandon Rogers to step out of the vehicle and asked if they had any weapons. Both men said they did.

Investigators seized the weapons due to both men being prohibited possessors — Jones is under felony indictments and Brandon Rogers is a convicted felon, according to the arrest report. Additionally, Brandon Rogers' firearm was determined to have been stolen.

Officers also found about 12 grams of marijuana and a scale in the center console of the vehicle, the report states.

Both men were arrested and charged with firearm- and drug-related charges.

In the meantime, other investigators had been working to find a match to any of the shell casings found on scene near Coyote Jack's.

So when police recovered the firearm from Brandon Rogers, they tested it and it matched the .40 caliber casings, according to a criminal affidavit.

Since the firearm matched the shell casings and the witness reported seeing him in the vehicle from which the shots were fired, Brandon Rogers was charged with reckless endangerment.

That charge was filed on March 8, according to online court records, and he was arrested five days later.

History of violence

The downtown nightclub, owned by Ronnie Berke and Tammy Taylor, opened its doors as Bella Vita in January 2015. 

Berke, an attorney at Berke, Berke & Berke, is Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's uncle and works in the law firm with Andy Berke's father, Marvin Berke.

Over the years, the club has had several shootings and at least two homicides take place just outside its doors.

Before its 2016 rebranding, the club had seen two shootings — one of which was fatal.

On March 13, 2016, Reuben Simpson, 35, 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 in that case and charged with criminal homicide.

By mid-June, the venue announced a complete renovation, though a staff member said at the time that the remodel had nothing to do with the shootings that happened earlier that year. Bella Vita had only been open for just over a year.

It reopened as Coyote Jacks Saloon in December 2016.

But in May 2017, the club was put on lockdown after a shooting took place outside, according to WRCB-TV Channel 3. Police said a man fired multiple shots into the air and possibly toward a crowd of people and one at the side of the building.

Seven months later in December, a shooting left 22-year-old Sharone Porter dead and his brother, 24-year-old Torrie Porter, injured. A suspect, Roddarius Martin, 24, was charged with criminal homicide, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment.

Then in July 2018, five people were injured in a shooting in the parking lot just outside of the club just before closing. A video of the incident was widely circulated on social media.

And now, within about a week of the Feb. 24 shots fired incident, the club announced plans for a second rebranding.

In a controversial Facebook post, general manager Daniel Weaver said the venue is getting a makeover that is a "necessary" change to make the club feel more safe and welcoming for everyone.

In the now-deleted post, Weaver said that part of that change would mean that "all forms of urban music" will no longer be played, which some people on social media perceived as racist.

Weaver declined to comment Thursday and referred any questions to the business' lawyers.

"We are tired of our statements getting turned into something completely wrong," Weaver wrote in a Facebook message. " ... We are trying to move forward and the media keeps dragging us back. So no more statements from us."

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


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