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Candles and stuffed animals are left by friends and family during a vigil in memory of Ashley McKenzie at the corner of Cambridge Drive and Carousel Road Tuesday, June 14, 2016. McKenzie was killed late Monday night.

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Latest homicide victim a member of Army National Guard

The city's latest homicide victim was a member of the Army National Guard.

Ashley McKenzie, 20, died at a local hospital after police received reports she had been shot in the 1700 block of Cambridge Drive on Monday night. Chattanooga police chief Fred Fletcher said McKenzie was visiting a friend and the killing appears to be gang-related.

Fletcher said McKenzie had recently deployed to Poland as a member of the National Guard. She served under the command of Col. Grover Wilson, who is also an officer for the Chattanooga Police Department.

"He knew her as a vibrant and professional soldier," Fletcher said. "And she will be missed by the Army National Guard, as well as by the Chattanooga Police Department and the entire community."

McKenzie's death marks the 16th homicide in Chattanooga this year. She is also the third female victim in a shooting in seven days. On Sunday, officers found 22-year-old Jerica Jackson in an SUV in the 4600 block of Trailwood Drive, dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

On June 6, 24-year-old Marquetta Bentley went to a hospital with a non-life-threatening injury after being shot, according to a CPD press release. "Information was obtained" that suggested Bentley had been hit in the 4600 block of Kemp Drive, the release states.

"Criminals who would want to hurt people don't care who they hurt," Fletcher said. "To think that a criminal that wants to murder somebody — as we saw in (the mass shooting in) Orlando — is going to change their violent ways because the person is a woman or a child is just not realistic. There are people out there who don't care about consequences, who don't care about the results."

Fletcher declined to provide many details on Sunday's or Monday's homicides. There have not been arrests in those cases.

Concerning Jackson's death, Fletcher said detectives are running down "a great number of leads" based on physical evidence and witness statements. Members of the department do not believe the death is related to gang activity.

Concerning McKenzie's death, Fletcher said he would release more information in the coming days. But as of Tuesday afternoon, detectives were still conducting interviews to gather specific details.

"The specifics about who was in the home and who she was visiting are still being followed up by detectives at this moment," he said.

On Twitter, a number of people who said they were friends with McKenzie posted pictures of her and expressed condolences.

"They really out here shooting women now," a man wrote. "I really can't even fathom this."

"Can't believe somebody had the heart to kill her," one woman wrote. "Promise we gone get justice for you love."

"My sister was beautiful," wrote another woman. "You'll live forever through me babygirl she used to always say to me 'blood couldn't make us any closer.'"

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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