Police pursue robbery motive in East Ridge shooting - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police pursue robbery motive in East Ridge shooting

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EAST RIDGE, TN. (WRCB)-- Poindexter and Summit Avenues intersect smack in the middle of one of East Ridge's quieter neighborhoods.

A shortcut, apparently, for Jeremy Rifenberick and a couple of friends around 10:30 Thursday night.

A gunshot would bring an ambulance and police cruisers.

"One of the parties displayed a gun, and the victim refused to give him his wallet," says police spokesman Erik Hopkins. "And at some point during the refusal, he was shot."

Rifenberick,22, took a bullet in the chest. LifeForce ambulance took him to Erlanger Medical Center in critical condition, but he was listed in fair condition Friday night.

His attacker, and the three young men whom witnesses say were with him, ran.

"Anybody else robbed besides the one who was shot? No," replies Hopkins.

Nor could anybody tell police how much he robbers got.

Rifenberick lives barely a minute's walk away, on Pinellas Lane. Nobody answered his door when an Eyewitness News crew came knocking. But the door itself stood ajar.

Neighbors have plenty to say about him, but won't talk on camera. They call him troubled. A challenge. And they know of his record.

"He's been arrested here on several different occasions," says Hopkins.

East Ridge's records begin in November 2009, with a charge of domestic assault. Police say it involved the mother of his three-year-old daughter.

Ten days later, officers would add theft. They say they caught him trying to steal computers from Bestway Printing, where he'd been let go from his job as a pressman's apprentice.

He's due in court later this month, on a charge of aggravated burglary, from an arrest in February.

"Investigators are looking into all the possibilities, of what it could be," says Hopkins. "But at this point, we're taking it at face value that he was robbed and shot."

Police are looking for four suspects; all young men. But they have descriptions of only two, both vague.

One is 18-20 years old, light-skinned, between 5'8" and 6 feet tall with an orange shirt and tan shorts.

The other is described as heavy-set, also about 5'8" to 6 feet tall.

Police have not said whether Jeremy Rifenberick's given them a statement, nor is it clear when he'll be well enough to leave the hospital.

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