ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Chattanooga Police respond to a reported shooting on 7th Avenue in south Chattanooga.
some text
LaRhonda Spence
map

Marty Drigans called 911 as the argument next door escalated and his neighbors' screaming and shouting echoed down Seventh Avenue around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

As he was on the phone with the 911 operator, he heard a pop.

"Did you hear that?" he asked her.

"Was that a gunshot?" she replied.

It was a gunshot, quickly followed by several more. A moment later, a car sped down the street, horn blaring. Another car sped away as well. 

LaRhonda "Poochie" Spence, 25, was shot, and she died at a local hospital after arriving in a private vehicle, according to police. Investigators are now looking for two persons of interest in connection to her death — Chaztus Whaley, 20, and Eurica Leslie, 28. 

Investigators believe Spence was the shooter's intended target, but don't think the shooting was gang related, Lt. Glenn Scruggs said. He also said it was too early to categorize the shooting as a domestic incident. 

Spence was shot either on the front porch of the home at 3205 Seventh Ave. or in the front room, he said. It's not clear whether she lived in the house.

Neighbors said a couple who did live in the house often had loud arguments. Neighbor Ramonita Melara said someone had been arguing at the house for about 15 minutes before the first shot was fired and she called 911.

She said she heard four shots. Usually, the street she lives on is quiet, although 17-year-old LaDarious Bush was shot to death just a block away in April. Since 2011, seven other people have been killed within a half-mile of her house.

"Sometimes it feels like living in a war zone," she said.

Several people witnessed Wednesday's shooting and are cooperating with police, Scruggs said. 

Spence was a mother and worked as a manager at a Wendy's restaurant on Rossville Boulevard. On Thursday, family and friends remembered her as a hard-working, outgoing woman.

"Family was everything to her," said Ashley Braswell, her cousin. "She never bothered anybody. All she did was work and take care of her daughter. She was loving, caring, and most of all she kept a smile on her face."

"She was a very happy, cheerful, sweet person who would give you the shirt off her back," said coworker Pooh Harris. "If [we were] having a bad day she would give us some encouraging words. I'm going to miss her so much."

Spence is the 29th person to be killed in Chattanooga so far in 2016. She is also the 11th woman to be killed in a year that has seen more women killed in the city than any other year since 2011.

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

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT