Man Executed In Apparent Gang Retaliation Slaying

Hutchinson Charged In Slaying, Mayor Summons Meeting On Gangs

Friday, June 16, 2006
Officers at East Lake Courts. Click to enlarge.
Officers at East Lake Courts. Click to enlarge.
- photo by Robert T. Nash

A man was shot in the head early Friday morning at East Lake Courts in what appeared to be gang-related retaliation for a murder a few days ago.

The victim of the fatal shooting was 24-year-old Jermaine Southers.

Police have charged 20-year-old Quanan Hutchinson with first-degree murder in the slaying.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said he will be meeting with concerned citizens on the gang issue on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church on M.L. King Boulevard.

Al Chapman, director of faith-based initiatives, and many other pastors will be present, it was stated.

After the shooting, lines of angry people gathered along Fourth Avenue outside the projects.

Police said the situation became very tense. Police Chief Steve Parks was among those on the scene.

Police spokesman Tom Layne said, "This morning around 5:30 a resident called 911 and reported hearing shots fired. Once officers arrived on the scene, they located a man down in the parking lot. They checked and he had been fatally shot. Officers secured the crime scene, called for additional units and then began an investigation trying to locate a shooter.

"Around 8:00 this morning a suspect was taken into custody. Neither the suspect nor the victim are residents of the East Lake Housing Development. This appears to be retaliation for this past Tuesday’s shooting in the Emma Wheeler Homes. It is also believed to be gang related."

A large number of police officers were summoned to the location, which is just off Interstate 24.

The shooting was believed to be a payback for the shooting of Adrian Patton, 26, on Tuesday at Emma Wheeler Homes.

The situation calmed at East Lake Courts calmed down somewhat after police said they had a suspect in custody.

On Friday afternoon, a host of police officers were called to a SWAT incident at the Emma Wheeler Homes, just a block from where the first shooting took place.

Police Chief Parks was also on the scene there along with several canine units and many other officers.

The area was cordoned off, and a black male finally gave himself up without incident about 3 p.m. The standoff started at about 1:30 p.m.

Mayor Littlefield issued this statement soon after the shooting:

“Our hearts go out to the families and the communities affected by the two recent shootings. We are addressing this serious problem with every resource the community and the federal government can provide.

"I called a meeting today to expand and reconfigure the weed and seed program, an anti-gang program, by reinvigorating the efforts already underway with $2 million in federal grants.

"The new operating budget calls for $100,000 to support Stop the Madness, an anti-gang positive role model program, which I talked about during the campaign.”

Bob Dull, executive director of the Chattanooga Housing Authority, said, “We at CHA are extremely saddened by the senseless loss of two young lives resulting from the recent incidents in the Emma Wheeler and East Lake communities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by these tragedies.  
“We applaud the efforts of Mayor Ron Littlefield to address this serious problem in our city and commit every means of cooperation possible to assist with that effort.”

Officials with Chattanooga Housing Authority said they are "committed to providing a higher level of security for its residents, staff and official guests."

One safety measure already in place is CHA’s “no trespass” list, it was stated.

The housing authority established the no trespass list nearly a decade ago, and CHA’s Public Safety Division has maintained the list since August 2002.

“The only way someone gets on the no trespass list is if they have committed a crime or threatened a resident or housing authority employee,” said CHA Chief of Public Safety Felix Vess. “Everyone wants to feel a sense of security in their own home, and we have policies and procedures in place to help protect the residents we serve.”

Chief Vess said the no trespass list is a concerted effort to help curb crime at CHA’s 15 public housing sites and other properties – including Section 8 homes.

He said the victim in this morning’s shooting at East Lake Courts was on the no trespass list, as well as the passenger in a truck driven by the victim in Tuesday’s shooting at Emma Wheeler Homes.

Neither the victims nor the passenger in the truck were CHA residents.

Chief Vess said tighter security measures are in place at Wheeler Homes, East Lake Courts and other sites following this week’s incidents. He saudt CHA has recently contracted for the installation of $300,000 of additional security measures, specifically surveillance and other electronic security systems, that will be placed on most housing sites within the next 60 days.

“Our officers with the Public Safety Division, which is housed at East Lake Courts, will continue patrolling the sites. Our primary responsibility is to protect the safety and well-being of our residents,” Chief Vess said. “We’re also working collaboratively to assist the Chattanooga Police Department in their investigations, although they are the lead law enforcement agency.”

Executive Director Dull said, “Providing a safe environment for our residents is our No. 1 priority, and we will not back down from that commitment. We will vigorously enforce our no trespass list and continue to look at other methods to improve security at all of our housing sites.”

Swarm of police were at Emma Wheeler Homes
Swarm of police were at Emma Wheeler Homes
- Photo2 by Robert T. Nash

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