Berke responds to rash of recent gun violence - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Berke responds to rash of recent gun violence

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In communities across Chattanooga there is an increase in patrol officers. Two squad cars sit outside East Lake Academy Wednesday where Deontrey Southers, 13, attended school.

The eighth grader was shot in the chest while inside his home on East 50th Street Monday night. He died on the way to the hospital.

Channel 3's partners at the Times Free Press report his uncle, Rodney "Rha Rha" Southers, is a part of the Rollin 20's Blood Gang and was picked up Tuesday afternoon on an unrelated charge while authorities search for his nephew's killer or killers.  

Less than two hours before Monday's fatal shooting a married couple was shot while inside their home on Central Avenue. They were treated for non life threatening injuries.  

On Tuesday afternoon a home on Hughes Avenue was riddled with bullets after shots were fired into the home. Thankfully, no one was injured.

"The important thing is to know that we are not powerless," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says. "We have to change this equation. The shootings involve one person retaliating for another person, retaliating for another person and so on. We have to change that and that's why over the next couple of months we get VRI off the ground, this is really a critical moment."

The VRI or Violence Reduction Initiative is Berke's plan to curb violence in Chattanooga. His administration is currently putting all of the pieces into place.

Meanwhile, Chattanooga is without a police chief. "That really doesn't have anything to do with it," Berke says. "These shootings come from retribution and retaliation. They have everything to do with respect." Berke went on to say, "right now I know that everyone is trying to make some sense out of what is senseless violence."

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