27 Chattanooga homicides; 13-year-old's case still unsolved - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

27 Chattanooga homicides; 13-year-old's case still unsolved

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - It has been a rough year in Chattanooga when it comes to violent crime. As Channel 3 first reported Tuesday, Chattanooga Police touted a 10 percent drop in overall shootings compared to last year but the homicide rate is up 42 percent in 2014. Many of those murders are still unsolved.

Out of 27 homicides in 2014 there have been no arrests in 13 cases. In January, one of those victims, 13-year-old Deontrey Southers, was gunned down in the doorway of his home. Those close to him say his case should be a reminder of why the violence has to stop.

"The hardest thing for me is just knowing that there hasn't been an arrest yet. And knowing that there are people in the community that knows who did it," says Patrick Hampton.

Around 11:30 p.m., Martin Luther King Day 2014, multiple bullets hit the front of 13-year-old Deontrey Souther's house on East 50th Street in Chattanooga. One of those bullets hit Deontrey in his chest while he stood in the doorway of his home. He died on the way to the hospital.

"I told them, I said, 'Make sure that you're at home when the street lights come on. Make sure you're not out with people and doing things that you shouldn't be doing.' Deontrey was doing all of that. He was at home. It was late at night. But because of an unfortunate situation he ended up losing his life doing the right thing," says Hampton.

Patrick Hampton runs 'Youth Advantage' at the Goodwill on Dodds Avenue, a mentorship program for Chattanooga teens.

"When I go to work I think about Deontrey. His plaque is on my wall and his workbook is on my wall."

Hampton still clings to Deontrey's workbook, filled with worksheets aimed at teaching kids the importance of staying away from drugs and out of trouble.

"He was kind of skeptical. But once he got in the program he realized that once he turned 16, we were going to offer him a job," says Hampton.

It is a job he would never get.

"Every life in our community is precious," says Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

Mayor Berke and Chief Fletcher say while they are troubled by the number of homicides, they are still encouraged by an overall decline in shootings. 

"We are going to continue to work on implementing progress programs, to being proactive, to using data intelligence and building community relationships to make sure we address crime and continue these positive trends," says Chief Fletcher.

The average age of a homicide victim in Chattanooga is 29. Hampton says the key is reaching the city's youth. 

"I just hope that Chattanooga looks at this and realizes that we can do a lot of things in our community to help our young people. We just have to start young and we have to invest in our young people," says Hampton.

Police say Deontrey was not the intended target of the shooting. His homicide case is still active. Chattanooga Police ask you call Crime Stoppers with any tips that could lead to an arrest at 423-698-3333. 
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