Family claims girl stirred up drama prior to shooting
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- LaMonte Williams' family can do little more than vent after hearing why 'every available' Chattanooga Police officer has swarmed near Howard High School, after barely a quarter past 10:00 Tuesday morning.
"They need to do something about those little children with guns," his aunt, Muriel Jones screams. "Why do children have guns anyway?"
"He was supposed to be in school," says Howard principal Paul Smith. "That's all I can say."
Fifteen minutes later, CPD's public information officer confirms what brought homicide detectives to the vacant home at 2620 Carr Street.
"They found a 16-year-old shot," CPL Nathan Hartwig says. "He was pronounced dead at the scene."
Police have not said how they knew to search for 18-year-old Courtney Birt; a gunshot victim himself last July. He suffered a leg wound when he says a car pulled up to him as he walked on Seventh Avenue. Five men were inside. The crime remains unsolved.
Birt was to appear in Hamilton County Sessions Court Wednesday, for a settlement hearing on a host of charges ranging from assault, to aggravated burglary, to reckless endangerment and several traffic violations. He now has been charged with criminal homicide for Williams' death.
"(Birt) chased (Lamonte) from school," Jones claims. "Lamonte was running to get away from him."
"We don't have any evidence that the suspect entered the school," Hartwig says.
Nevertheless, police and Hamilton County school officials put Howard on lockdown, after witness reports that Williams' killer was running back toward the school.
"This was all over a girl, stirring up drama," Jones claims. "She kept telling Lamonte he (Birt) was gonna get him. LaMonte didn't want nothing to do with her."
"We're not going to get into motive right now, " Hartwig says. "We're still trying to determine what happened."
Birt's last known address 2104 East 32nd Street. Police were dispatched there, partly to search, and to check out reports of shots fired there. They proved to be unfounded.
"They know it's real," Williams' cousin, Takia Spivey says of the generation now attending middle schools and high schools. But unless something happens to them directly, it seems that's when you know they get right."
Spivey admits she has no answers when her daughter texts her: "How is it we aren't supposed to question God, when He has all the answers?"
She's certain, however, that faith and one another will be all that her family has as it grieves the loss of a young man whom they say tried to avoid gang life and violence, only to have both find him.
"I just pray for our family," Spivey says. "And pray for the family of the person who done this. Because everybody is gonna be hurt."
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