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Nearly 50 officers, emergency responders and detectives swarmed East Lake Courts Tuesday afternoon, interviewing residents and searching for leads in a slaying there.

Within 15 hours, they had a suspect.

Chattanooga police arrested Christopher Lamar Lowe, 24, early Wednesday morning during an interview and charged with first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and unlawful carry and possession of a weapon. He is being held in the Hamilton County Jail on a $740,000 bond.

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Christopher Lamar Lowe

"The community is understanding that we're the community, too," police Chief of Staff David Roddy said Wednesday of the public's cooperation in the matter. "Violence toward our community members will not be tolerated."

Police found Percy Allen IV, 20, with a gunshot wound to the neck in his home in East Lake Courts at 2800 Fourth Ave. around 1 p.m. Tuesday. He is the 25th person to be killed in Chattanooga so far this year.

Before the shooting, Lowe carried a dresser drawer through East Lake Courts, dropped it to the ground and emptied the contents into his pocket, according to statements and video footage from Allen's girlfriend. The footage shows Lowe going into the girlfriend's house before leaving around 12:12 p.m., according to the affidavit.

A witness told police Lowe tried to get into her car on 4th Avenue through the passenger door. Breathless and sweaty, he told the witness he needed to leave the area, according to the affidavit. Neighbors also told police they saw two black males running from Allen's house about 25 minutes before authorities arrived.

Police said Wednesday the motive for the slaying remained unclear, and they could not say whether this was gang violence. Because the investigation is ongoing, Roddy gave few details.

Sylvia Peoples-Fuller said Tuesday her son was home with his 2-year-old daughter when he was shot, perhaps as part of a robbery.

Allen's toddler saw the slaying of her father, a quiet painter who kept to himself, Peoples-Fuller said.

Reached Wednesday, Peoples-Fuller said she didn't know much about Lowe, except that he went to Howard High School, her son's alma mater.

"I didn't want Percy to be a statistic, an unsolved murder," Peoples-Fuller said Wednesday. "I'm glad they found the suspect. But I'll have to let justice and law do the rest. My job now is to put my son to rest."

In kindergarten Allen started drawing, she said. Doodles on napkins, book characters on paper. He progressed to portraits, mastering the details of the chin, the mouth, the nose. Shading pencils were his tools of choice.

Peoples-Fuller remembered Allen's dreamy demeanor, always channeling some faraway feeling into a future sketch. She recalled a precocious child who outsmarted teachers but struggled to turn in assignments. He once completed a semester of work in one month, she said, in order to graduate from Howard.

As a child, Allen hated horror movies. As a teenager, he loved skateboards, video games and red velvet cake. A tech whiz, he coached his mother and her girlfriends through computer problems on the phone. A comedian, he danced around the house wearing her weaves.

Allen considered college, Peoples-Fuller said. But he paused those dreams to be near his father, a park-league umpire who was battling leukemia. When Allen was 17, his father was rushed to the hospital for a medical crisis. He never returned.

Perhaps that's why Allen never liked hospitals. Still, when his mother awoke from her colon surgery in February, there was her youngest child, sitting at the foot of her bed.

"Percy, why are you here?" Peoples-Fuller recalled asking.

"Momma," he said, "you were acting so crazy, I couldn't leave you."

Contact Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow @zackpeterson918.

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