A weekend shooting led to a lock down at a popular downtown bar. It happened near the 1400 block of Cowart St around 1:30 p.m.
Elisa Myzal, a spokesperson for the Chattanooga Police Department tells Channel 3, an officer was advised of a disorder in the area of Coyote Jacks Saloon. As the officer was pulling in front of the establishment he saw a black male fire multiple shots in the air and possibly one at the side of the building. The officer got on the radio and called shots fired and for backup. The suspect fled the area on foot towards the Chattanooga Choo Choo and Track 29 area.
He was not located.
Myzal said another officer that reported to the scene spoke with Coyote Jacks security staff. The security staff told the officer the suspect had been removed from the club and was upset about it when he left.
The suspect was approximately 60 feet from the front entrance on the opposite side of the road when he was shooting in the air and possibly towards a crowd of people.
Channel 3 spoke with the Coyote Jack's owners, Tammy Taylor and Ronnie Berke over the phone. The pair were also the owners of Bella Vita. Taylor explained that the police have not contacted her nor her staff about what happened, and denied the shooter being a customer at the bar.
"Our video footage shows the shooter didn't come from Coyote Jacks and were not on our property. Two customers were disorderly, but were in our custody at the time the shots were fired. We cannot cooperate with police because there was no incident at our business. They have not contacted us," said Taylor.
The business posted this statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday, May 16 after going on lock down after the shooting incident:
"170,000 views on fb and decided to quit looking at the shares.. Yes Coyote Jacks went into lock down on Saturday Night and all the right precautions had been taken.. That's why we in force pat downs , wands and bag searches .. if you feel unsafe with a team that does this then i truly am sorry because we will continue to take all precautions for the safety of our customers and our staff. Unlike many who are stating this is still the old Bellavita I assure you it's not the memories of the incidents there haunt many.. Our Security will be increasing!! With a Venue of this size we have expected something to happen and will continue to take all precautions to keep Coyote Jacks and The Living Room safe.. If necessary I will be more then happy to do a press release on the facts of Saturday Night.. Before I end this post please keep in mind the power of social media and how many can blow things out of proportion and actually enjoy doing so.. Thank you for taking the time to read this.."
Faith Hayes, a manager at Clyde's On Main, said the nightlife scene downtown is unpredictable. It's why the bar is staffed with security and managers monitoring the restaurant constantly.
"We have two in the front door and one at the back door and then we have two managers on the floor who are walking around constantly making sure that everyone is keeping her cool, said Hayes. "You can kind of see when someone is starting to get a little too aggressive with other people and we tell them to just immediately get a manager give us a call because we want to stop a situation before it even happens."
Hayes admits Sometimes things get out of control outside of the bar, attracting unwanted attention to businesses.
"It hasn't really affected us too much people still want to go out and hang out and drink some beers," said Hayes. "We're definitely cautious you never know these days so we try to make sure we look at everyone when they come in."
Hayes said she understands beefing up security and creating more checks, but it's not necessary for Clyde's.
"I think if you have a solid staff, you have a good clientele, and you just are very aware and try to just do your best to be involved in all those situations I think it's not too difficult. If things were to get worse I guess here on Southside maybe we would implement that but as of right now we don't really have a need for it, which is awesome. It's great, but I understand why other people would do it."
The Chattanooga Police Department, sent the following data regarding assaults, which includes disorders and fights starting at Coyote Jacks's and other surrounding businesses:
Coyote Jacks (including Bella Vita) - 1400 Cowart St.
9 Assaults within 500 feet since December 1, 2015
1 Aggravated Assault
*Bella Vita - Dec. 2015 - June 2016 (closed for renovation) *Coyote Jacks - Oct. 2016 - present
Regan's Place - 1518 Market St.
11 Assaults within 500 feet since June, 2016 - present
Southside Social - 1818 Chestnut St.
24 Assaults within 500 feet since March, 2015 - present
Police are working to identify and confirm more details about the shooter.
Stay with Channel 3 for updates on this developing story.