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A 22-month-old baby was shot in the leg during a drive by shooting in the 200 block of Water Street on Wednesday as part of what police say is an ongoing gang fight. Broken window and gutter are the house next door, pink truck is in front of house where shooting happened. Car is parked across the street from shooting house.
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A 22-month-old baby was shot in the leg during a drive by shooting in the 200 block of Water Street on Wednesday as part of what police say is an ongoing gang fight. Broken window and gutter are the house next door, pink truck is in front of house where shooting happened. Car is parked across the street from shooting house.
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A 22-month-old baby was shot in the leg during a drive by shooting in the 200 block of Water Street on Wednesday as part of what police say is an ongoing gang fight. Broken window and gutter are the house next door, pink truck is in front of house where shooting happened. Car is parked across the street from shooting house.

The car spun around the corner and the bullets flew.

One bullet slammed into a car, another shattered the window of a house across the street, one cut through a pink toy truck parked by the house on the corner — and one bullet hit the leg of a 22-month-old boy.

The toddler was on a porch on the 200 block of Water Street with a few adults, gang members who'd gathered to celebrate because one man had just been released from jail.

Police say rival gang members drove by and opened fire, targeting the men on the porch.

But only the toddler was wounded.

"We believe a rival gang targeted these men with deliberate and reprehensible disregard for their lives and the lives of our community, and for the life of a baby," Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.

The toddler was shot just after 10 p.m. Wednesday, and police have linked the incident to two triple shootings and a homicide this week, Fletcher said. The rash of violence is part of an ongoing gang war between two rival groups, according to police.

"All they want to do is shoot each other over ridiculous beefs about respect and girls and social media," a visibly frustrated Fletcher said at a news conference Thursday.

On Sunday, 24-year-old Marquise Jackson was shot and killed on the same block as the toddler, who has not been identified because he is a minor. Eight hours after Jackson was killed, three people were shot on Dodson Avenue. All three survived.

Then, early Wednesday morning, three more people were shot near the 2400 block of Windsor Street and also survived. Of the six shooting victims, three were juveniles in their late teens, according to police.

All three incidents were connected to the gang fight, Fletcher said. Police did not name the gangs that are involved or give a motive for this particular beef.

There are people who know who shot the toddler, Fletcher said, and he urged those people to come forward and cooperate with police.

"Listen to me," he said. "These cowards shot a baby."

Police believe at least one, and perhaps multiple red four-door sedans were used in the shootings. Fletcher said Thursday that officers were working to track down any known gang member who is driving or has been known to drive such a vehicle.

"If you are a gang member driving around in a vehicle that meets the suspect vehicle description, you should expect a police officer to visit you," he said. "You might want to get rid of your drugs and your guns or maybe even get out of Chattanooga."

He acknowledged that many nonfatal shootings go unsolved, but said police will find a way to put suspected triggermen in jail, even if officers end up arresting suspects for other offenses like drug or weapon charges.

"We're not terribly good at solving these shootings, but we're really good at putting you in jail for other things," he warned.

There have been about 85 shootings in Chattanooga so far in 2016, according to Times Free Press records, and 22 people have been killed in the city.

Police will have a heavier than normal presence in Alton Park in the wake of the shooting, Fletcher said.

But that doesn't bring much comfort to one neighbor, an 81-year-old woman who awoke when the gunfire erupted Wednesday, closer than ever before. She asked not to be identified out of fear for her safety.

She was in bed when the shots rang out, and she stayed there, didn't move a muscle.

And even after the gunshots quieted and the police arrived, she stayed still.

"I just couldn't move," she said.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas. Follow @ShellyBradbury.

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A 22-month-old baby was shot in the leg during a drive by shooting in the 200 block of Water Street on Wednesday as part of what police say is an ongoing gang fight. Broken window and gutter are the house next door, pink truck is in front of house where shooting happened. Car is parked across the street from shooting house.
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