Three of four weekend shootings in Chattanooga may be related to gang feud

Three of four weekend shootings in Chattanooga may be related to gang feud

March 24th, 2015 by Shelly Bradbury in Local Regional News

Four people were shot in Chattanooga in four separate incidents over the weekend, and police believe at least three of those shootings are connected.

Two groups of gang members have a running feud that boiled over into violence this weekend, Chattanooga Police Department Chief Fred Fletcher said.

Weekend shootings

* Brainerd area - 12:24 p.m. - Thadius Montgomery, 24, shot once while driving vehicle
* 3100 Third Ave. - 1:35 p.m. - Gary Mitchell, 50, shot once, in critical but stable condition
* 700 Orchard Knob Ave. - 10:51 p.m. - Raven Hilt, 19, shot once

* 2300 Vance Ave. - 11:36 p.m. - Ladarius Watson, 20, shot once
Source: Chattanooga Police Department

Shootings year-to-date

* 2015: 24, including four homicides
* 2014: 30, including seven homicides
* 2013: 36, including eight homicides

Gang-related shootings year-to-date

* 2015: 14
* 2014: 19
* 2013: 22
Source: Chattanooga Police Department

"We don't know exactly what [the feud] is about, but we think it goes back some months," Fletcher said. "Part of the investigation is to figure out what the motivations behind that beef might be. But it does appear there are two distinct groups of folks comprised of gang members from at least two different gangs who are feuding with each other."

Three men and a woman were each shot once on Saturday and Sunday. All are expected to survive, although one is in critical condition. Police believe the shootings of Thadius Montgomery, 24, Raven Hilt, 19, and Ladarius Watson, 20, are connected.

The shooting of Gary Mitchell, 50, does not seem to be connected, Fletcher said, but it's possible the gang members were targeting someone else and hit him by accident.

"We believe he was an innocent bystander," he said.

Fletcher declined to say which gangs were involved in the feud. He said police are taking steps to try to prevent future violence related to this particular fight this week, and will put out extra patrols both visible and undercover.

"We do not believe the feud is over, but we are doing everything we can to ensure there is no more violence," he said.

The patrols will focus on areas where police expect more violence, he added. The weekend's shootings bring the total number of shootings in 2015 to 24, including four homicides. That's six fewer shootings than this time last year, and three fewer homicides.

"Shootings, homicides and overall aggravated assaults are down for the year and we're very happy with those trends," Fletcher said.

But James Moreland, president of the Avondale Neighborhood Association, said the reduction in shootings hasn't been noticeable in his neighborhood. He thinks the problem of gun violence can't be stopped by police alone, but only if the entire community comes together.

"It takes a village to raise a child, and there are not too many villages active today," he said. "So if that parent doesn't have parenting skills, then that kid ends up being raised by the environment, and that's what we're seeing out in streets. I think it is going to take the whole community coming together to rid ourselves of this."

Contact staff reporter Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or with tips or story ideas.