A group of children used sheets of cardboard to slide down the biggest hill in Renaissance Park on Tuesday, just a handful of the people enjoying the sunshine and downtime a stone's throw from the scene of a homicide that occurred two weeks ago.
On July 16, 45-year-old Kathy Hardy of Chattanooga was shot to death during what police are calling a botched robbery attempt on one of the piers inside the park. Her husband told police they were walking in the park shortly after midnight when they were approached by Tyree Corley, 22, and two other men who demanded all their belongings.
The husband said Corley brandished a gun and fired three shots, but he was able to escape by going over the edge of the pier. He swam to shore and alerted a security guard. Authorities were called to the scene and Kathy Hardy was found on the pier, deceased.
Corley was arrested and charged with first-degree murder the next week, but he tried to hang himself in the Hamilton County Jail the day after he was booked, according to jail officials. When he was found, jail staff called paramedics. They rushed Corley to a hospital, but he died from his injuries.polls here 4047
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office criminal investigations division is investigating Corley's death, according to Matt Lea, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. When asked whether Corley was in a cell by himself and being checked regularly by jail staff, Lea said that information was part of the ongoing investigation.
Despite concerns from the public since the homicide occurred in what is generally considered a safe area, acting Chattanooga Police Department Chief David Roddy said the killing was an isolated incident.
"Thanks to cooperation from community members, Chattanooga police identified and arrested the person responsible for Kathy Hardy's tragic death," he wrote in a statement. "Even though a suspect was charged, investigators continue to work to locate his two accomplices."
Several people at the park Tuesday morning had mixed opinions about their safety in the area.
Amy Walters said she lives in a condo next to the park and the homicide was jarring.
"I added Mace to my dog leash after that happened," she said with a large poodle by her side. "This is kind of our yard, so it was definitely startling. When it's not gang-related and it's not drug-related, it is scary."
A witness saw three men fleeing the scene toward Cherokee Boulevard and Manufacturers Road the night of the shooting, and Walters said she frequently takes out her dog where they were seen.
"That could have easily been me watching, and then I'm a witness," she said. "Now I'll probably stay closer to the building."
On the other hand is Richard Waters, who has lived all his life in Chattanooga and now works on the North Shore. When asked if the shooting had made him wary of the area, he said, "No, not really."
"Chattanooga has got kind of a crazy crime pattern anyway," he said. "I just won't come out here after midnight."
Police have remained relatively tight-lipped about the incident, declining to release the identities of individuals who might have been involved.
"I understand the lack of information doesn't help calm fears in the community, but eventually it will help CPD and the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office bring the people responsible to justice," Roddy said.
"Through investigation it's been determined that this is an isolated incident. However, always be aware of your surroundings. By staying alert you are better able to handle any situation."
Since Hardy's death, Chattanooga has seen four more homicides, bringing this year's total to 25. At this point in 2016, one of the most violent years in recent memory, there had been 22 homicides.
Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at email@example.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.relatedarticlethumbrelatedarticlethumb