Since We've Been Gone

Here’s the Chattanooga news you may have missed since last semester.

Ooltewah high school student raped

Three juveniles have been charged with aggravated rape after one of them allegedly forced a pool cue into the rectum of a 15-year-old freshman while the other two held down the victim on a bed.

All four were members of the Ooltewah basketball team and the incident took place on a school trip to Gatlinburg on Dec. 22.

The tip of the pool cue reportedly broke inside the victim causing extensive injuries that  required hospitalization for several days.

As details came out during an investigation over the following weeks, Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston also filed charges against three adults in connection with the case.

The team’s basketball coach Andre “Tank” Montgomery, assistant coach Karl Williams, and Ooltewah athletic director Allard “Jesse” Nayadley were charged for failing to report child abuse or suspected sexual abuse.

As a result of the scandal, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith has said that he will resign from his position after the school board buys out the remainder of his contract.

Pinkston’s office has also planned to subpoena Smith, as well as Assistant Superintendent Lee McDade and Ooltewah High School Principal Jim Jarvis.

Frustration with distribution of $467,000 fund for July 16 victims

After five service members were murdered in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga this summer several funds cropped up to support the families of the victims.

The National Compassion Fund, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime, came before city leadership and offered to administer charitable contributions that were donated over the course of six month.

They announced earlier this month that they had raised $467,335.13 for the victims.

However, a steering committee comprised of community members and service members decided that the definition of a victim should be expanded to include more than the families left behind by the deceased.

Also included were survivors of the attacks and first responders who claimed that they suffered psychological trauma from what they experienced that day.

The lion’s share of the funds, $331,490 went to the five families, but some people raised eyebrows over $45,968 going to 26 civilian claimants who were on scene when the attack occurred and $28,000 going to the 28 first responders who claimed psychological damage.

It was discovered that according to city code, Chattanooga first responders are actually prohibited from accepting payment from anyone but the city for the performance of their duties.

In order to circumvent this issue, Chattanooga City Council voted 9-1 to make an exception in this case which some council members called “extraordinary.”

But the five officers who actually shot and killed the gunman will not be taking additional money for their actions.

Officer Sean O’Brien said, “I think it undermines what we stand for and what we do. We were already compensated for our work that day through a paycheck.”

Monday homicide is first in 2016 for Chattanooga

20-year-old Thomas Simmons was shot to death in East Chattanooga, ending a 24-day homicide-free streak in the city.

The victim was shot in the chest on the corner of Sheridan Avenue and Wilson Street just before 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

A second victim, 21-year-old Deonte Evans, was also shot in the leg but is expected to survive.

According to witnesses, the shooter was on foot when he opened fire and shot multiple rounds.

Police Chief Fred Fletcher said that the shooting appears to be gang-related.

Shortly after Simmons was shot, police responded to three separate calls of shots fired that may be connected to the murder.

An 18-year-old named Delvonte White was also arrested at 9 p.m. that night with a handgun on North Orchard Knob Avenue after two reports of gunshots on Ocoee Street.

That night witnesses told authorities that two people knocked on the door of a home on Foust Street and opened fire, but officers couldn’t find a suspect when they arrived.

Fletcher warned gang members of retaliatory violence on Tuesday saying, “Gang members can make the decision to stop or we will stop them, no matter what it takes or how long it takes.”

“If you are a member of a gang, listen to me. We will pursue anyone that aims to harm our community.