Two good things have come from Chattanooga's second horrific mass shooting in a mere eight months.
First, there has been an arrest in the second one — the one that happened in our downtown tourism area within a stone's throw of the Walnut Street Bridge and the riverfront we like to tout. There may, we hope, soon be a second arrest.
As for the mass shooting on Grove Street last September when seven women were shot and two died following a party near College Hill Courts? There have been no arrests, though the city, three months after the shooting, announced it would match a $10,000 reward raised by Chattanooga's Black community in organized rallies and marches.
Secondly, our city council members and even our county commissioners already are talking publicly about the community's pain and needs in light of these shootings, despite an astonishingly tone-deaf response by Chattanooga police and city officials with their failure — no, refusal — to give Chattanooga enough details about the newest shooting for any of us to fully understand what these needs are and how to heal.
With so little information — so little meat on the bones of this tragic happening — these important city and county conversations remain vague.
There's a saying in journalism: Why be vague when you can be specific? There's another saying we all know: Knowledge is power.
So let's be specific and powerful here. The city and police tell us the shooting began as two groups of teens moved toward each other as if to fight. Then shots were fired.
What groups? A group of girls and a group of boys? Black groups? White groups? Hispanic groups? Groups dressed in red? Groups dressed in black? Baylor kids? McCallie kids? Choir kids vs. alter kids? Chattanooga kids vs. a group of kids cruising here from — somewhere? Kids with green hair vs. kids with pink hair?
In the absence of even small details, each person trying to make sense of something senseless puts their own fear or bias into play.
Forget for a moment Chattanooga's need to heal. If the city's 180,000-plus residents are left to their own assumptions, is that not bare ground waiting for the seeds of more animosity? More violence? At the very least more misunderstanding?
A person near the scene who offered help to some of the victims told us the young people injured were Black. But anyone watching the mayor's brief videotaped interview with MSNBC earlier this week also saw video running on the split TV screen showing a first-responder loading a victim with bare, white feet into an ambulance. Was the video from somewhere else? Some other time?
Yet even after offering that example to the city, we were offered no additional details.
Authorities first told Chattanoogans the two groups exchanged gunfire. Officials later said two individuals from one group apparently were targeting one or two people in the other group and most of the victims were caught in the crossfire. We point this out not to shame the city or the investigators. The real narrative of what happens in situations like this evolve as more is learned. We understand, and applaud the quick correction.
But we're now a full week out from this shooting with six teens injured — four boys and two girls, all 15, save a 13-year-old. Two remain in critical condition. And that's all we know.
It's not enough.
City officials are using the "groups'" juvenile status as an excuse. But it's just an excuse. Juvenile status protects the names and identities of underage suspects. That's all. It has nothing to do with the narrative of what happened in any incident.
The mayor and his chief of staff, Joda Thongnopnua, say the essence of this thing is that kids were out doing what kids do, but with guns they shouldn't have had.
"Had they not had guns, they'd have gotten into a fight and it wouldn't be a story," Thongnopnua told the editor of this page Friday.
We agree and disagree. Sans guns, the fight may or may not have been a story, depending on its size, circumstances and collateral damage.
With guns the damage increased exponentially. And the damage was done to and by people. Our people. (We assume!)
Those guns also exponentially increase the need for Chattanooga to understand exactly what happened here Saturday and why. There's collateral damage to city residents' psyches, too, after all. What was the beef between these "groups." What was said or done that make them advance against each other for a fight? What made the shooting start?
Here are other unanswered questions.
What were the guns and where did they come from? Were they stolen from cars or lifted from Dad's nightstand drawer? Will Dad or the car owner be prosecuted for having unsecured guns that made their way to a teen's hand?
Have the lesser injured teens recovered?
Has a second helping investigative group like the FBI or TBI been called in?
Kelly and his team deserve kudos for jumping quickly to talking about fixes in coming months and years — a safe gun storage information campaign and a pledge to release in coming weeks a three-part plan to address local gun violence. This on top of initiatives already in the works to solve possible root causes like inadequate housing, poverty and opportunity gaps.
Still, the community needs "now" help. We must know what really happened to heal and feel safe.