Tip from club leads to misidentificaton of suspect - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tip from club leads to misidentificaton of suspect

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Chattanooga Police say information from a local club led to identifying the wrong suspect in a weekend shooting. Police quickly named the suspect, but then said they had the wrong person. Now the search is on for the man who pulled the trigger outside a downtown club.

Club security gave police a name, pictures, even surveillance video of the alleged suspect. They released the man's name, thinking it was case closed but during an interview investigators realized they'd been given wrong information.

Bella Vita on Cowart Street was closed Monday, as police look for the person who shot a man in the head outside the Southside club Sunday morning. A fight broke out between two groups of men leaving the club. “It is starting to get more common. I have never heard of deaths of shootings downtown, it is always in other parts of Chattanooga,” UTC student Krista Waldecker.

The shooting comes as a surprise to James Smith and his fiancé Krista. They spent their New Year’s Eve at the dinner club. “We didn't get out of Bella Vita until almost 2:00. We could have been right there if it happened a month or two ago,” said James Smith.

The victim was unresponsive when the police arrived. Officers spoke with the security team at the club who were convinced they knew who fired the gun. “The security there, they knew who the suspect was. They provided police with a picture and name. We proceeded to find that individual and bring him in for questioning,” said Assistant Chief Tracy Arnold.

CPD released the suspect's name before a thorough interview. After questioning the man they determined the man was not the one police were looking for. “A little mix up in communication. The communications officer spoke to the initial officer on scene but didn't confirm info with the investigators. And that’s why his name was released prematurely. It was a mixed up in communication.”

The man was released but not without an apology from the police chief.  “We spoke to the family and explained the situation and gave them all an apology and they are good with it.”

Channel 3 spoke with the family of the man who was first named as a suspect and they say they hold no grudges. We reached out to the club's owner for comment. Our calls have not yet been returned.

If you know anything about this crime you are asked to call Chattanooga Police.


A man is recovering from a single gun shot wound to the head.

Chattanooga police responded to the 1300 block of Cowart Street on a reported shooting.

The victim, Reuben L. Simpson, 35, was unresponsive when police arrived on scene. Hamilton County EMS responded and transported Simpson to a local hospital.

Officers spoke with witnesses from the Bella Vita Restaurant, at which both a suspect and the victim had been. After questioning that suspect CPD determined that the suspect was not involved in the shooting.

Chattanooga Police continues to follow all actionable leads. Simpson's injuries are non-life threatening.

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