UPDATE: Suspected exposure death as body found in Chattanooga - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Police ID body found Tuesday

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Chattanooga police investigate the scene where a man's body was found Tuesday morning. WRCBtv.com Chattanooga police investigate the scene where a man's body was found Tuesday morning. WRCBtv.com
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: "For all of us homeless people, a lot of times we don't have anywhere to go," said Herman Langston, trying to fight the dangerous cold on Wednesday.

Langston will be splitting his time between the Salvation Army and Community Kitchen this week.

Word is spreading across the homeless community about what happened to 64-year-old Douglas King. His body was found in an area across the street from Community Kitchen on Tuesday morning, hours after the temperature dipped to 21 degrees. Alcohol bottles and a blanket were nearby.

"A lot of us that knew him, we're taking it hard," Langston said. "But a lot of people, they just, 'Oh well, another one gone'."

"When one person is exposed to the elements and does actually die, it defeats the whole purpose of the shelter," said Jens Christensen, Executive Director of Community Kitchen.

He said although King had stayed in the shelter before, there is no record he was there or turned away that night.

Chattanooga Police said officers did pick up a drunk homeless man from the shelter earlier in the day.

"If you come in and you're so intoxicated that you're unable to take care of yourself, you're falling over drunk, you're hitting other people, that's not something we can deal with," said Christensen.

The man, who was not King, was dropped off at a place to stay. Police said they did not get any calls about King until his body was found.

Other local shelters are taking extra measures to ensure the homeless have a place to stay inside. The Salvation Army is extending hours at its day shelter, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"That way folks can go straight from overnight shelter into the day shelter, and they don't have to be out in the elements," said Kimberly George.

George said volunteers are on standby in case they must open their doors as an emergency overnight shelter.

"[We] are prepared to open up overnight when the city-funded Community Kitchen shelter is at capacity," she said.

Chattanooga Police officers were transporting homeless people to the Community Kitchen shelter on Wednesday evening. Patrol officers were making rounds to the homeless camps to pick up those needing shelter from the cold.

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UPDATE: Chattanooga police have identified the man found Tuesday as 64-year-old Douglas King, a white male.

Police are investigating the death of the man, believed to have died from cold weather exposure Tuesday morning.

The body was found around 8:00am on East 11th street, near the railroad viaduct. The location is nearly 1,000 feet from the Chattanooga Community Kitchen and Chattanooga Police Dept.

"He wasn't covered up or nothing it was like he was froze to death," said Willie Evans.

Evans told Channel 3 Eyewitness News that he and other homeless men found the man lying on the ground dead, with a blanket huddled up against a concrete wall.

"I went around there and seen that he was dead," said Evans. "I tried to stop police then went to the police station and then I took them around there to show them."

Investigators say they believe the man died from cold weather exposure. While the victim has not yet been officially identified, officers said he was immediately recognized as a frequent visitor of the Community Kitchen. Several homeless people staying there tell us the man found dead, was last seen being turned away from the shelter.

"I saw it.... they turned that man away," said Darylallis Sr., homeless witness. "The guy was standing there underneath that green awning and he was inebriated but like he said, he wasn't bothering anyone or anybody,"

For confidentiality reasons Community Kitchen's Executive Director Jens Christensen says he can not confirm if the man identified by witnesses has ever stayed here.

"What I can tell you is that anytime there is a death because of exposure... it's a tragedy," said Christensen.

Christensen says he checked the roster for Monday night, and confirmed the man had not tried to check in nor was turned away from the shelter.

The cold weather emergency shelter rules state, "loud, obscene, intoxicated and combative behavior will not be tolerated. Violators will be asked to leave and or police will be called." Christensen says police are called if a person is considered to be harmful to themselves or others.

"That man had a heart of gold he never bothered nobody," said Darylallis. "I'm not trying to get the kitchen in trouble because it's a blessing to me but what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong."

Community kitchen officials said about 300-400 people stay there during the day. On Monday night, only 144 stayed overnight.

Chattanooga Police tell Channel 3 they were called to the Community Kitchen Monday night on a public intoxication complaint. Officers did find that person a safe place to stay for the night.

Early Tuesday downtown Chattanooga saw temperatures as low as 19 degrees with wind chills making it feel like the temperatures were in the single digits. Although officers believe the cause of death is from exposure, the exact cause of death will have to be determined by a medical examiner.



PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga police are investigating the area of East 11Th Street Tuesday morning where the body of a man was found.

Channel 3 has learned that the death may to be exposure related, with the victim having been a visitor to the Community Kitchen several times. He was reported to have been found with a blanket

The official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner.

The body was found near the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, which serves as a temporary shelter for the homeless in the area, especially in cold weather such as the region has experienced the past few days.

The shelter provides food and clothing to those in need.

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