Chattanooga Police say the arrest of 21-year-old Antonio Watkins, a known Gangster Disciple member, will help curb future violence.
Watkins is a relative of Dennis Clark, who tells us he has had recent ties to the city's Violence Reduction Initiative, working for Hope for the Inner City. He was at the house as well when police moved in.
"We arrived and saw felony criminal activity in plain sight," says Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.
Chief Fletcher says his officers, responding to a call from a concerned citizen, showed up at the home on Curtis Street. According to court documents obtained by Channel 3, the caller told police "the dope boys are back."
"We searched the home. We found drug paraphernalia and weapons that had been reported stolen," says Fletcher.
Officers found cocaine inside a car parked outside. They say the drugs belonged to 21-year-old Antonio Watkins. Police also found an officer's badge inside the home along with two stolen guns. The badge was reported missing by the officer it belonged to in March.
"It was lost during an incident when an officer was reported on the street. He reported it to his chain of command. But more importantly, we're very very concerned why a criminal, a home that is known for criminal activity, would not return that to its rightful owner," says Fletcher.
Acting on a tip, Channel 3 learned Dennis Clark, who acknowledges his recent ties to Chattanooga's Violence Reduction Initiative, was inside the home when police arrived.
Clark is the former Marketing Director for Hope for the Inner City, the non-profit contracted with Chattanooga, to help curb gang violence.
His contract ended in January.
"Dennis Clark was there," says Fletcher. "He has not worked with me on the Violence Reduction Initiative."
Clark has not been charged with a crime or accused of any wrong-doing.
He told Channel 3 over the phone, his family was gathered for Easter dinner and there was no criminal activity taking place inside the home when police arrived.
He went on to say he and other family members were placed in handcuffs while officers searched the home.
He calls the police response by 27 officers "overkill."
Chief Fletcher calls it protocol.
"Which is not unusual. Because you have to contain the scene. You have to do a thorough search warrant," he says.
He praises his officers' work.
"I think it was great work done by police officers in support of our community," says Fletcher.
Clark says he does not want the events that unfolded on Curtis Street to reflect badly on Hope for the Inner City.
As for Antonio Watkins, he is charged with several felony charges, as well as threatening the officer who arrested him. Watkins' mother was also arrested for theft. Both are due in court in the coming days.
Hope for the Inner City Executive Director, Paul Green, issued the following statement to Channel 3, stating:
"Dennis Clark is not and has never been an employee of Hope for the Inner City nor has he had any involvement with VRI. Dennis Clark, The Clark Company, was contracted to provide consultant services from October 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015. Those services included general marketing and public relations for Hope for the Inner City which were unrelated to the VRI."
He adds, "NO VRI FUNDS were used to resource his efforts."
Acting on a tip, Channel 3 has confirmed Dennis Clark, who has ties to Chattanooga's Violence Reduction Initiative, was at the home on Curtis Street Sunday when police executed the search warrant. Clark tells Channel 3 the home belongs to some of his family members.
Clark has not been charged with a crime or accused of any wrong-doing.
Clark tells Channel 3 his family was gathered for an Easter dinner when officers arrived and there was no criminal activity taking place. He says he and other members of his family were placed in handcuffs while officers searched the home. He calls the police response "overkill".
Clark notes he recently served as the contracted Marketing Director for Hope for the Inner City, the non-profit organization contracted with the City of Chattanooga to help gang members who have turned away from violence. Clark says his contract expired on January 31. He says he does not want the events that unfolded on Curtis Street to reflect badly on the organization.
Chattanooga police recovered stolen guns and an officer's badge after a search warrant was executed at an east Chattanooga home known for Gangster Disciple affiliates.
Police raided the home where 38-year-old Latoya Watkins resides. She faces two charges of theft.
Her son, 21-year-old Antonio Watkins – dubbed by police as a high ranking Gangster Disciple member -- is facing multiple charges including possession of cocaine for resale, possession of marijuana for resale and possession of drug paraphernalia as well as a charge of retaliation against an officer.
Chattanooga police were called to 2004 Curtis St. on a noise complaint Sunday. The caller told police "the dope boys are back."
As a responding officer approached the home, the officer informed Antonio Watkins and his girlfriend to move a SUV that was parked the wrong way on the street.
Watkin's girlfriend started to the move the vehicle and the officer realized the gold Honda CRV matched the description of a vehicle involved in a shooting on Olive Street Saturday, according to court records obtained by Channel 3.
The officer also noticed the scent of marijuana coming from the SUV. Officers asked the woman to step out of the vehicle and found a bag of marijuana and an electronic scale sitting in the center console. The officer also found a large bag of white powder cocaine containing 10.6 grams.
The woman told police the car belonged to Antonio Watkins. The officer found his ID in the center console.
As the officer approached Watkins, he says Watkins "became aggressive" and said he did not have to listen to police.
Officers noticed about eight people in the yard who refused to comply with police commands. They began recording police with cell phones.
More than two dozen officers responded to the address on Curtis Street.
Watkins was arrested and transported to the Hamilton County Jail.
While at the jail, Watkins asked the officer his name. Watkins then told him "I might put a hit out on you." Watkins insisted he was joking.
Police obtained a warrant for the house where they found a stolen Taurus PT 24/7 .40 Caliber gun and a stolen Heckler and Koch 9 mm handgun in a kitchen cabinet. Police also found a Chattanooga police officer's badge in the homeowner's bedroom. Latoya Watkins told officers she was hiding the guns for a friend for a couple of days. Watkins was arrested and charged with theft under $500.
A fugitive out of Alabama, Lapaslee Pride, was also taken into custody at the residence.
Latoya Watkins posted a $5,000 bond. Her next court date is set for April 10 before Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck.
Antonio Watkins posted a $50,000 bond. His court date is set for April 13 before Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom.