Chattanooga Police: "Validated gang member" shot & killed on Lightfoot Mill Road

Chattanooga Police say investigators found the body of Deonte James inside a vehicle on Lightfoot Mill Road Tuesday night. (Images courtesy family members, WTVC)

UPDATE: Police say officers found Deonte James in a car shot to death, Tuesday night.

In the past year, James plead guilty to several drug charges.

According to court records, his latest arrest was just three weeks ago for domestic assault.

Police haven't determined if his death was the result of gang retaliation.

Jammal Hicks doesn't know James, but grew up around gang violence and had friends fall a similar way.

"A majority of life you hear about them getting killed, and you have to watch his momma cry her eyes out there's nothing fun about that," Hicks said.

Hicks, also known as Maal the Pimp, writes Music and hopes to inspire others to take the path he did.

"I chose another route," he said. "I wasn't always positive my whole life, but music was my outlet."

He says its hard to understand what it's like to grow up on on the streets he did, but says people can help those involved in gang violence by offering them opportunities and jobs.

"Everybody who comes from the streets, they don’t enjoy that. They don’t like that," he said.


Chattanooga Police say investigators found a man's body inside a vehicle Tuesday night.

Wednesday afternoon, police identified the victim as 23-year-old Deonte James.

Officers were called on a suspicious vehicle at 2700 Lightfoot Mill Road just after 9:30 p.m.

Norfolk Southern Police made the call, saying it looked like the car had been abandoned.

Upon arrival, CPD Officers approached the vehicle and found James inside suffering from a gunshot wound.

Hamilton County EMS responded to the scene and pronounced the unidentified victim dead.

Police say the victim is a "validated gang member," but investigators say they don't know right now if the incident is gang-motivated. Police designate "validated gang members" based on a long list of criteria that includes behavior online, past criminal activity, and other factors.

Members of the Violent Crimes Bureau are actively investigating this incident and following all actionable leads

CPD is asking anyone with information to call the Homicide Tip Line at 423-643-5100. Callers can remain anonymous and all tips go directly to investigators.

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