Friends and family gathered Sunday evening to remember 24-year-old Nakia McMillan, who had been killed in a single-vehicle crash on Highway 58 on Dec. 2. By the end of the vigil, two other men would be dead and a third fighting for his life.
They were Chattanooga's 29th and 30th homicides this year.
The victims — 23-year-old Hollis Malone and 22-year-old Lyonnel Gladden — and another 22-year-old man, whom police have not identified, were attending the nearby candlelight vigil for McMillan not long before shots rang out, according to several Facebook posts made by friends and family.
It's not clear what led up to the shooting or if the vigil was held in the same apartment complex where the shooting took place, and Chattanooga police have not confirmed details.
Police were called to the Bayberry Apartments, located at the 2300 block of Wilson Street, just after 9 p.m. Crime scene investigators worked throughout the night and into the morning as they collected evidence from the scene where they were pronounced dead.
The third man was taken to a local hospital, police said. His condition is not known.
All three victims are known to associate with gangs, according to police, and at least one victim was a known gang member.
Meanwhile, friends and family members of the deceased have been sharing their grief on social media.
"No goodmoring from you that's crazy," one woman wrote on Facebook about one of the victims. "u don't deserve this."
"I never wanted too [sic] have too type this not with yo name," another person wrote. "I don't know where to start. I really got a heavy heart. Just thinking about all the s--- we done did just wish when I woke up it was all a dream. Pulling up yo fb pg just too see did u post you ok. It still haven't hit me that u really gone forever. Long live my brother my best friend Lyonel Gladden love you dude."
The Bayberry Apartments, formerly known as Woodlawn Apartments, has seen its share of violence on or near its property over the years.
At least 12 shootings are known to have taken place between 2011 and 2016, including one that left a 3-year-old injured, according to Times Free Press archives.
Since Jan. 1, 2011, there were killings within a 1,000-foot radius of Bayberry Apartments, according to data from the Chattanooga Police Department. And within the past five years, there have been 50 major crimes there, including burglary, auto theft, rape, aggravated assault and murder.
In 2017, a 24-year-old man was left paralyzed after a shooting. Three gang members pleaded guilty to reduced attempted second-degree murder and aggravated assault charges.
In 2018, Cortez Alford was shot and killed in a stairwell. A suspect was captured in Detroit nearly three months later. The case is still making its way through the court system.
By 8:30 a.m. Monday, police had already left the scene.
A woman, who did not want to identify herself for fear of retaliation, said she was very concerned for her and her childrens' safety. She said the apartment complex does not allow vehicles with expired registrations to park on its property, so residents with expired registrations have to use street parking. And she's worried about having such a long walk from her vehicle to her home.
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, some grounds workers were seen picking up some trash. Some were carrying brooms and dustpans and what appeared to be a wad of yellow crime scene tape.
One man, who also did not want to identify himself, said he wasn't especially concerned because the violence typically has to do with who one associates themselves with and not the general public.
The level of violence seen on Sunday night isn't a frequent occurrence, he said. "It's not something you see every day."
Police have not said if they have any suspects. But homicide investigators "have been reviewing evidence and speaking with people who may have seen or heard something that could help identify and locate any suspect(s)," police spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said in an email.
Investigators have not confirmed if there is greater concern for retaliatory fire, but Myzal did say that any time violence occurs that involves gang or group members, "police are concerned about the potential for retaliatory acts of violence.'
"We are monitoring intel and working with community members to try to get ahead of any additional violence," she said. "[The police department] encourages and stresses the importance of community members sharing information with police. Working together can help prevent another loss of life or serious injury."
So far this year, Chattanooga has seen 30 victims of criminal homicide. Twenty-four of the victims were killed by gunfire. By this time last year, there had been 17 victims, 14 of whom were shot.
However, it's worth noting that the city saw a significant drop in criminal homicides from 32 in 2017 to 20 in 2018. Those two numbers includes all homicides, not just gun-related killings.