Photo Gallery

Police chief: 'Violent coward' responsible for slaying of 71-year-old man

some text
A photo shows bullet holes in the window of a former Chattanooga city employee who was killed by a high-powered rifle during a drive-by shooting.


*does not include accidental, justified or self-inflicted shootings

2016: 18

2015: 16

2014: 20

2013: 19

Source: Chattanooga Police Department


2016: 4

2015: 4

2014: 6

2013: 5

Source: The Toll

Chattanooga police have no suspects in the late-night slaying of a 71-year-old retired city worker who was shot inside his home while in bed on Wednesday.

Orlandus Metcalf was killed when someone outside the home opened fire with a high-powered rifle around 11:20 p.m. in the 2600 block of Taylor Street, according to police.

At least 15 rounds were fired during the drive-by shooting, but police don't believe Metcalf was the intended target — his grandson, a validated gang member, may have been. Only Metcalf and his wife were home during the shooting. His wife was not injured, although at least seven bullets pierced the home's windows and walls.

Police Chief Fred Fletcher said the shooter or shooters are likely gang members, and he asked anyone with information on the crime to come forward. Gang members are considered validated when they meet certain criteria set by police.

"We have very few leads and very little evidence in this heinous crime," he said, adding later, "If you know about this crime, and you don't stand up or speak up, you're contributing to the murder of a 71-year-old man in his bed."

Metcalf is the fourth person to be killed in Chattanooga so far this year, records show. Thomas Simmons, 20, was shot to death on Jan. 25, while Lakita Hicks, 25, and George Dillard, 24, were killed inside their home on Jan. 31. Police have made no arrests in any of this year's homicides.

Metcalf spent 31 years working in Chattanooga's Public Works Department, starting in 1972 and retiring as a general supervisor in 2003. He was an outgoing man, his family said.

"He was silly, a great father figure and father, and a husband," said his niece, Jasmine Southers. "He always helped people out. He will truly be missed."

She said he had no enemies. Neighbors said Metcalf kept to himself, often tinkering on cars in his yard. He and his wife recently put new siding on their house.

The streets around Metcalf's home are littered with trash and broken glass. Most homes are worn, many have "Keep Out" or security signs posted on their walls. Stray dogs roam through muddy yards.

One neighbor, who asked not to be identified for fear of her safety, said her home has been broken into five times in three years.

"It's quiet, but it's sneaky," she said. "We usually hear gunshots two or three streets over. It's never been right here."

She pointed to some moving boxes in her living room.

"I've got to get out," she said.

Fletcher said the police department is working to prevent retaliatory violence in the wake of Metcalf's death, and again and again called for community members to give information to police.

Investigators found two sets of shell casings near the scene — one from a high-powered rifle, and one from a pistol. But Fletcher said it's unclear whether the pistol shell casings are related to the homicide.

He added that the rifle the shooter used was more powerful than the weapon used to kill the five U.S. service members on July 16.

"This is as powerful of a rifle round as you will see on the streets," Fletcher said. "And to shoot that blindly into a home puts a great number of people in danger. This type of round could have gone through that home and hurt somebody outside it. This is a violent person, a violent coward, who would fire a gun blindly into a home and kill a 71-year-old man in his sleep."

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