Residents, Police respond to recent gang incidents

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Chattanooga police arrest four gang members at a bowling alley this week.

Local gang members have been involved in several incidents in busy public places recently, from the Brainerd Road Walmart to the Hamilton Place Mall. But police tell News 12 residents shouldn’t worry.

Brandi Provencio is a Chattanooga resident. She says, “It’s kind’ve scary.”

The arrest of these men at Spare Time Entertainment is the latest incident since November involving gang members in busy commercial places.

Provencio continues, “It’s almost to the point where people are afraid to frequent those places anymore because of being afraid of what’s going to happen to them or their family. And these days people don’t like to feel unsafe.”

Vicki Ponder also lives in the Tennessee Valley; she says, “Anytime something happens, it is concerning, so it’s like, ‘Ugh, OK. Maybe I should stay home a little more.'”

But Chattanooga police say residents shouldn’t worry about these recent incidents.

They say it’s not illegal to be in a gang.

“The gang activity is what makes it illegal, so they have just as much right to go out and enjoy the bowling alley, to Walmart, to the mall and everything like that. It’s just when the gang incidents between one another flare up that the concerns are there,” says Sgt. Josh May with the Chattanooga Police.

Sgt. May says we’re hearing about these incidents more often recently, because they come in waves.

“A lot of it – social media is responsible. You’ll see guys that date the same girl or something along those lines, and beefs just happen. And sometimes incidents just occur at places you normally wouldn’t expect them to occur, so it’s always like that,” continues Sgt. May.

May says these commercial places are popular hangout spots.

Even though they’re busy, he says it’s rare for an innocent bystander to get hurt.

May says, “Most of your citizens are going to be just fine in looking back at all of the victims and who’s involved in all this stuff.”

Some residents, however, say they don’t want to take any chances.

Ponder says, “It makes me try and be a little more aware of my surroundings, and being a little bit more intelligent about what I’m choosing to do at what times of day and with how many people, that kind’ve thing, rather than going out by myself.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Local News

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