Pair Given Maximum 6-Year Sentences For Shooting At School Bus Stop

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - by Wendy King

Two Chattanooga teens were given six-year prison sentences on Tuesday by Criminal Court Judge Don Poole for a shooting at a bus stop and the ensuing high speed chase.  

Witnesses said Lonta Montrell Burress Jr., 18, and Darius Jerel Gustus, 19, fired shots at several high school students on Dec. 7, 2010, after they got off a school bus. They then tried to evade police as Burress drove 80 miles plus per hour down McCallie Avenue before the chase ended on Willow Street when the stolen truck he was driving rolled over numerous times. The students at the bus stop were not injured.

Burress and Gustus were each sentenced on three counts of aggravated assault and evading arrest. Burress was convicted for theft of property valued over $1,000, while Gustus was also convicted of possession of a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment.

Burress, who is awaiting trial for the July 2011 murder of Darius Townsend, and Gustus sat quietly during the hearing. The teens both had extensive Juvenile Court records along with several probation violations.

Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney Cameron Williams stated during arguments that Burress and Gustus were “dangerous offenders who have little to no regard for human life as they fired in a residential neighborhood as students were departing a school bus.”

Prosecutor Williams also spoke of the high-speed pursuit of the defendants in mid-afternoon traffic and how they narrowly avoided hitting a school bus as police were chasing them.

As for the Class C felony of aggravated assault that ranges from three to six years in prison, the prosecutor said it was insufficient for the circumstances saying that the public needed to be safe from Burress and Gustus because they would continue to “endanger the citizens of Chattanooga.”

Attorneys for Burress and Gustus said the case would be appealed stating that witnesses gave two different versions of events during the July trial adding that there was no evidence that Burress shot with and reloaded his gun while Gustus shot in the air and just wanted “to scare people.”

The defense attorneys have 30 days to appeal the sentences.


Corker Welcomes Action On Adoption Of Congolese Children

Senator Bob Corker on Friday said he welcomed passage of S. Res. 502, a Senate resolution concerning the suspension of exit permit issuance by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents.  “I’ve had the opportunity to hear first-hand the stories of many Tennessee families who are stuck in ... (click for more)

Wamp Campaign Critical Of Fleischmann PAC Funds

The Weston Wamp campaign said Friday that incumbent Congressman Chuck Fleischmann raised $30,000 in two days from special interest political action committees (PACs) "to continue to fund his negative campaign. That pushes the incumbent’s campaign past the $550,000 mark in PAC money for the election cycle." The Wamp campaign said Rep. Fleischmann "also raised eight individual ... (click for more)

A Tennessee Transplant's Thoughts On Age And Politics - And Response

I have read several opinions favoring the job performance of Representative Fleischmann as well the apparent disdain that they have for his challenger and his age.  I must disclose that unfortunately, I am unable to cast a vote in the 3rd District Republican primary.  I will however always be a Chattanoogan.  As a result, I feel more engaged in East Tennessee politics ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Orchids And Onions

With record low temperatures being recorded around the South, I didn’t know what I’d find in my garden on the first day of August but – sure enough -- there is a profusion of orchids and onions. The start of college football will be later this month and, with the chilly mornings, fall practice is a far cry from what it will be when the sweltering heat comes back next week. Here’s ... (click for more)

Live Viewing Party Of The National Championship Offered At First Tennessee Pavilion

Chattanooga Football Club fans will get one more chance to gather and cheer on the team as it battles for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championship powered by Mitre.  On Saturday, from 7-11:30 p.m. at the First Tennessee Pavilion, Big River Brewing Company, Volkswagen Chattanooga, Memorial, Finley Stadium, and EPB Fiber Optics are hosting ... (click for more)

Larry Fleming: Phil Schmidt Made Life Better For Those That Knew Him

The sad news came Thursday morning in a phone call from Jill Bowling, the daughter of Phil Schmidt, longtime photographer at The Chattanooga Times – for years he served as chief of the department – had passed away minutes earlier at TriStar-Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Through Jill’s tears she said, “Daddy died this morning.” It was a phone call I didn’t want to get and ... (click for more)