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Balloons and other items mark the scene Monday, October 10, 2016 of a shooting in the 1900 block of Wilder Street. Jimmy McCane was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

Weekend shootings

1. Robert Ellison III, 18, was shot Friday around 11:45 p.m. in the 1200 block of Houston Street near city hall. His injuries were not considered life threatening. No suspect information has been released.

2. Geonta Gaines, 21, and Antwain Edmonds, 19, were shot in the 3700 block of Ohls Avenue around 5 p.m. Saturday. They drove to a hospital in a personal vehicle with non-life threatening injuries. A suspect vehicle has been described as a gray/silver Ford.

3. Jimmy McCane, 33, died after he was shot around 2:30 a.m. Sunday at Jay’s Bar in the 1900 block of Wilder Street. Police described McCane as an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of an altercation at the venue. Kristy Foster, 39, was also injured. No suspect information has been released.

4. Two people were shot near East Lake Park while driving on Dodds Avenue around 10 p.m. Sunday. Their identities have not been released yet, but police said their injuries were not life threatening. A police officer heard the shots and saw a white Dodge minivan fleeing the scene.

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Jimmy McCane.
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Balloons and other items mark the scene Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, of a shooting in the 1900 block of Wilder Street. Jimmy McCane was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

The jailing of high-ranking Chattanooga gang members is at least partially responsible for a wave of violence that swept through city streets over the weekend, police department Chief Fred Fletcher said Monday.

Seven people were shot in four separate incidents between Friday night and Sunday night. One of them was killed, bringing the city's 2016 homicide count to 30, which matches the 2015 homicide total.

Addressing the violence during a morning news conference at police headquarters, Fletcher credited it to fall break from school, and the seemingly counterintuitive idea that having local gang leaders behind bars could be a cause of violence.

"I sat in a courtroom last week and looked at half a dozen known gang leaders," Fletcher said. "When they leave their gangs because we put them in jail for the violence, that creates a vacuum and people fight to replace that leadership. That's what we're seeing now."

Jimmy McCane, 33, died after he was hit in the crossfire of a dispute he was not involved in at Jay's Bar on Sunday morning, police said. McCane was a member of the 126 Athens Park Bloods, but Fletcher said he was an innocent party in the early morning altercation.

Kristy Foster, 39, also was shot during the incident at Jay's bar, but her injuries were non-life threatening.

The police department's communications coordinator Elisa Myzal confirmed the city's code enforcement department will conduct an inspection at the bar.

"If it's not up to city code standards, they will cite them for those, and then they have to fix those," Myzal said. "If they choose not to fix them, they will be shut down."

The other five weekend shooting victims all suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

Authorities expected the fall break period, which is this week for Hamilton County's public schools, to be one of the most violent times of the year.

"We know that because of our dramatic progress in building a data-driven, intelligence-led police department supported by a real crime analysis unit and a real intelligence unit," Fletcher said.

He credited those techniques and a gang partnership with other law enforcement agencies for why an officer was within the vicinity of a Sunday night shooting in East Lake.

Three people, one male and two female, were riding in a vehicle near 3400 Dodds Ave. around 10 p.m. when a suspect in another vehicle opened fire and struck the man and one of the women.

An officer heard the gunshots and saw a suspect speeding away in a white Dodge minivan, according to Fletcher, who said it's fair to assume the shooting was gang-related.

"What that should tell you is two things," Fletcher said. "Your Chattanooga Police Department and their partnership in fighting gangs is absolutely in the fight, and we're taking the fight to these gangs on the street. It should also tell you that you have criminals in your community and in our community that are so committed to committing violence that they'll do it within sound-shot and sight of police officers."

Fletcher said criminal shootings have decreased by 8 percent since April, when a gang war resulted in numerous shootings, including the shootings of two pregnant women.

"We put a lot of really bad criminals in jail after that outbreak of violence in April," Fletcher said.

Not all those who were jailed necessarily pulled the trigger in shootings, but police believe they nabbed the gang leaders who were "calling the shots."

Those gang leaders, according to Fletcher, have been involved in jail fights that have spilled over to the streets, where lower-tier gang members are jockeying for position to fill the "vacuum" created by the imprisonment of the gang leaders.

The Hamilton County Jail, he said, is not built to support the number of people it's housing, particularly those who are so violent. But Fletcher said the police department will continue identifying those who are replacing the gang leaders, so officers can get them off the streets as well.

"I'm going to tell this community that we are building a truly 21st century police department and we are implementing the tools necessary to identify the people who threaten our community," Fletcher he said. "As we had already planned this week, we are going to continue to take the fight to the streets, to the gangs who threaten our community, at great risk to the men and women who wear this uniform."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.

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