Ashley McKenzie was an emerging community leader, viciously and needlessly murdered in cold blood; likely the victim in a foolish beef in which she was not even involved. "We are still investigating the intended target for this shooting," said Chattanooga Police Sgt. Victor Miller, "however, at this time, we do not believe that Ashley was the direct target."
That does not make the loss any easier to bear. McKenzie was a 20-year old bright light, a Central High School graduate, and a soldier in the Army National Guard. Soon after McKenzie's murder last June, Keaira Colbert described just the kind of friend she was, "If you needed it, she would give it," she said of McKenzie. "She did anything for the people that she loves and cares about."
Ashley McKenzie was gunned down as she visited friends at a home on Cambridge Drive. Around midnight, there was a knock at the door. "Whenever she went to answer the door," said Sgt. Miller, "she was shot one time and that killed her."
Witnesses saw a back male flee in a red Ford four-door sedan.
Family and friends were shocked and devastated. "I mean, I was thinking something happened when she was serving our country or doing active-duty," said cousin Darwaynia Dunson, at a vigil held after the shooting. "I wasn't expecting it to be here in Chattanooga."
The city's gang problem seems to have claimed another victim. McKenzie was Chattanooga's 17th homicide in 2016. "We believe there may be some gang connection to this homicide, however, we do not believe that Ashley was in anyway directly involved in a gang," Sgt. Miller said.
Along with a killer being on the loose, there is still some information out there, valuable information that could lead to justice and to a payday for anyone who passes it along. "Although you may not have all the pieces, we have some pieces we're already working on," Miller added. "So, just provide us a name or information you do have that could help us complete that puzzle."
Up to $1,000 is available. Whether you do it for the cash, for your conscience, or for your community, call Crime Stoppers.
"This baby does not deserve to be going to the National Cemetery at the age of 20." said family friend Cassandra Robinson. "Somebody knows what happened. They need to come forward. This family is grieving; friends are grieving."
When you call Crime Stoppers, you are assigned a case number. No one ever asks for your name or who you are.
If you get voice mail, leave a way for Sgt. Miller to get back with any questions.