Watch video on Youtube »



Tia Russell sat on her porch with a friend near West 38th Street Wednesday afternoon and the conversation turned to the spate of recent shootings.

A 28-year-old man was shot just after midnight Wednesday morning at 200 W. 38th St., not far from where Tia and her friend sat, and a 44-year-old man was shot an hour later on Dodds Avenue.

Her friend shook his head.

"Man, no telling when they're gonna pop off again," he said.

No sooner were the words out his mouth than gunshots split the air.

"They just let go," Russell said. "It was like, 'Crack, crack, crack, crack.'"

She thought she heard seven or eight shots. When the dust settled, Chattanooga police found a 17-year-old boy who'd been shot twice -- once in the foot and once in the hip. He is expected to survive.

The shooting happened around 1 p.m. at 400 W. 38th St., less than 13 hours after the earlier shooting and just two blocks down the road.

The violence is a sobering start to the summer for residents of the Villages at Alton Park. Students in Hamilton County schools finished their last day of classes Wednesday, and now neighbors are bracing for more violence as kids hang out and the weather heats up.

"Every year it gets worse," said Ladonna Bugg, a resident for about 10 years. "Most of the time it's not people who live out here, it's people who are visiting."

Police Chief Fred Fletcher said officers typically see a slight bump in violence in the first few weeks after school lets out for the summer.

some text
Chattanooga Police Officers Michael Holloway, left, and Robin Davenport place evidence markers at the scene of a midday shooting on E 38th Street that left one person with non life-threatening injuries on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"It's not as dramatic as you'd think," he said. "Crime doesn't triple. But you certainly see and feel more issues. You see more juveniles out."

He added that police track every event that could spark violence in the city -- from the end of the school year to Riverbend to the Fourth of July -- and craft a response to each event to try to prevent violence. This year, he said, police have been working for about a month to prep for the end of the school year.

"We've been treating it like an inoculation," he said. "Doing a little outreach and a little enforcement for several weeks ahead of time, so that word would get out that there are certain expectations of behavior."

The department also sends extra patrols to parks and recreation centers, he said.

Neighbors suspect Wednesday's afternoon shooting was connected to the shooting of Ladarius Johnson, 28, who was shot two blocks away while standing in front of the Southside Market just after midnight. But police could not say whether the two shootings were connected.

Fletcher said the West 38th Street shootings appear to be gang-related and that there has been at least one prior incident of violence that may be connected.

Investigators do not believe, however, that Johnson's shooting is connected to the shooting that happened about an hour later at 2300 Dodds Ave. In that case, Reginald Bell, 44, told police he was walking on the street when an unidentified person shot him.

Police have not arrested suspects in any of Wednesday's three shootings.

Fifty-one people have been shot in 43 different shootings in Chattanooga so far this year, and 11 people have been killed, Times Free Press records show.

Of those 51 victims, most are black men -- only nine women have been shot this year. All but 11 of the victims are black.

The average age of Chattanooga's shooting victims so far this year is 25.

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