When three Signal Mountain police responded to reports of a fight in Old Towne Friday night, they found that the house at 404 South Street was dark.
Investigators soon learned from neighbors, however, that the lights in the house had been on prior to the arrival of law enforcement officers, and could see for themselves that the driveway and back yard were filled with vehicles. Further, they “noticed a smell of marijuana coming from the house,” Officer Randy Poland noted in his incident report. Consequently, they went to the front door and knocked, the report said.
The woman who opened the door identified herself as the person who had rented the house, a short-term rental property, Officer Poland and Police Chief Mike Williams said Monday afternoon.
“The female stated there was nothing going on and they would quiet down . . . that they just wanted to get out of Chattanooga where the heat was on . . .,” they noted. However, responding “officers observed at least 10 people in the residence, one of whom was a validated gang member.”
Meanwhile, investigators outside had found blood on the back porch of the property, Officer Poland and Chief Williams said. Further, a Nissan parked in the driveway turned out to have been stolen in North Georgia.
Based on that information, the two said, officers decided “they needed to enter the residence to determine if anyone was injured” and the woman who had rented the property gave them permission to come in.
“Officers did locate a male in the bathroom area who was sitting on the floor and appeared to have been in a fight,” according to Officer Poland’s written report “. . . (and) one male in a bed and another hiding under a bed in another bedroom,” where a semiautomatic pistol also was found.
Eventually, the report said, another 20 individuals came out of the back of the house, where they could not be seen, and into the living room, bringing the total number of suspects to 29.
At that point the three outnumbered Signal officers called for back-up, and personnel from Chattanooga Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department and Red Bank Police, as well as midnight shift Signal officers, came to the scene to aid in the investigation.
Several of the responding officers immediately recognized people at the gathering as validated Rollin 20s Bloods gang members, according to Chief Williams and Officer Poland. Gang members, in turn, recognized the officers.
“There were some interesting conversations going on there for a while,” the police chief said.
Bryson Curley, the owner of the short-term rental, was contacted, according to Chief Williams and Officer Poland. Mr. Curley gave officers permission to search the entire property and to remove everyone who was there.
Officers searched all 29 people attending the gathering, as well as the rental property itself, according to Officer Poland’s report.
“The scene was processed and eight guns were recovered in various locations; three guns were identified as stolen. Narcotics found throughout the residence were suspected to be crack cocaine, marijuana and molly pills.” A substance which appeared to be marijuana was found in one of the vehicles parked outside and an extended semiautomatic magazine in another vehicle.
All collected evidence is now being examined by law enforcement authorities, and the identities of the people at the party are being verified.
Chief Williams and Officer Poland said the investigation into the incident is expected to be lengthy, and further arrests are likely.