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.


Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Nomination Of Nikki Haley To Be U.S. Ambassador To The United Nations

Senator Bob Corker on Tues day joined a majority of committee members in voting to favorably report the nomination of Governor Nikki Haley to serve as U.S. smbassador to the United Nations to the full Senate for consideration. “Governor Haley is a fierce advocate for American interests,” said Senator Corker. “As South Carolina's Governor, Nikki Haley is a proven leader. I believe ... (click for more)

Councilman Hakeem Plans Workforce Development Initiative For District 9

District 9 City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem said he is planning a Workforce Development Initiative for the district.   He said it will be "a critical program to provide access, engagement, inspiration, training anddevelopment and empowerment to many District 9 citizens that desire to take advantage of the economic development and job growth that's taking place throughout ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March - And Response (2)

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Puzzling Women

After Rhonda Thurman left the “Enlightment” meeting of the Hamilton Country School Board Saturday afternoon, she must have been catching up on the news when she posted this message on her Facebook page: “I am really trying to understand. I am a woman and I cannot think of one "RIGHT" I do not have. Can someone enlighten me?” Not one person enlightened Rhonda because nobody could ... (click for more)

Big McClendon Curtis Leads Central Past Hixson

Central coach Rick Rogers knew this would be a long season for his Purple Pounder basketball team after his top seven players graduated last year. He’s exactly right, but things are headed in the right direction for Rogers as his team improved to 5-10 overall and 3-6 in District 6-AA with a heart-stopping one-point win at Hixson Monday night. That’s two wins in a row and the ... (click for more)

Cleveland, Bradley Central No. 1 And No. 2 In State Wrestling Poll

Now in its 25th year, The Poll is primarily a measure of  dual meet strength  with some consideration to individual tournament strength.   Votes are cast by a state-wide panel of high school wrestling coaches and are based on a maximum Power Ranking of 100%.   STATE POLL:   RANK ... (click for more)