Three counts of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault were dismissed against a 22-year-old Chattanooga gang member on Monday afternoon after a prosecutor said the man was mistakenly declared dead and then evidence in the case was destroyed.
Prosecutor Cameron Williams said it was "a clerk's error" that Cameron Hunter-Loftin was listed as dead and Criminal Court Judge Don Poole on July 20, 2011, signed an order dismissing the case. He said he had no idea how it happened. The case was revived last March 1 after the error was discovered.
The order said the dismissal was "based upon information received from the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Nashville Tennessee regarding the deaths listed on the attached list, and further based on confirmation by the Hamilton County Data Center by matching Social Security numbers."
The prosecutor said afterward the federal ATF destroyed shell casings the state planned to use in prosecuting the case. He said, "This was done without informing us."
Prosecutor Williams said shell casings were found at the scene of an Aug. 30, 2009, shooting. He said a shell casing was found with Hunter-Loftin that matched the ones found at the scene. All of the shell casings were destroyed after the report that he was dead.
It had been charged that Hunter-Loftin fired shots into a car occupied by Quinnisha Tillison, Carmen McKibben and Janice Croom. The prosecutor said the victims have been uncooperative.
Hunter-Loftin was arrested by federal authorities in September 2009 at his residence on Jenkins Road after he was found with several weapons as well as gang items. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to resale and possessing a weapon in further of a drug crime. He entered guilty pleas and was sentenced to serve five years and a day in federal prison.
The federal charges arose May 29, 2009, when Chattanooga Police executed a search warrant at 2109 Jenkins Road.
Police said they forced their way in when no one would come to the door. They found Hunter-Loftin in a bedroom with a loaded Glock 21 semi-automatic handgun. He had to be tased when he refused to give up the gun, police said.
Police said they found a loaded AK-47 assault rifle in the same bedroom leaning against a wall.
They also found a large bag that contained 118.29 grams of marijuana, digital scales, an ecstasy pill, marijuana "roaches" and ammunition.
Officers found $1,620 in Hunter-Loftin's tennis shoes.
Police said they found gang paraphernalia as well as pictures of Hunter-Loftin flashing gang signs. He told officers he is a member of the Tree Top Piru Bloods and that he sleeps with the Glock every night.
He admitted smoking pot every day and said he buys marijuana twice a week and breaks it down into "dime bags" that sell for $10 each.
He said he bought the two guns from two different people at different times.
Hunter-Loftis was charged in the federal case a short time after the incident involving the shots fired at the three women.