The new public narrative involving the gang’s control over an Atlanta neighborhood is described in the GBI’s arrest warrant for one of the two suspected gang members accused of Turner’s murder on July 4, 2020. He renewed the questions on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and his administration’s handling of the crisis following the Brooks shooting last year.
It is not clear whether officials knew last year that the gunmen in the blockade were gang members. Police and other city officials would not directly address the issue on Friday.
Bottoms said in a statement that the GBI “has not shared any direct information with me or members of our administration on the warrants they have issued.”
Throughout the evening of July 4, 2020, gang members used weapons and intimidation to control the intersection, the GBI alleges. Three and a half hours before Turner was shot, several gang members pointed their guns at a MARTA bus and its driver as the vehicle fell on the barricade at Pryor Road and University Avenue. The episode was captured on video, according to the recordings.
Three hours later, a couple drove to the barricade in their car and were stopped by two young men – one with a shotgun, the other a rifle. One of them, Jerrion Amari McKinney, 23, told the man he was “disrespectful” and pointed his gun at him, according to a warrant.
Three other people surrounded the vehicle and forced the couple to turn around, according to the warrant.
The car pulled into a nearby parking lot and the young man with a gun, Julian Jamal Conley, in his early 20s, approached the couple a second time and pointed his gun at them, according to a warrant.
To exploreSecoriea Turner death suspect surrenders to police
A few minutes later, Turner and his family arrived at the barricade. When they attempted to pass, two Bloods, Conley and McKinney showed their weapons, according to a warrant. As the family tried to get around the barricade, the warrant says Conley opened fire with his AR-15 type rifle and hit the side and back of the vehicle. McKinney chased the vehicle down the road as it drove away, records show.
Since the new allegations of gang involvement became public on Thursday, some have objected to the GBI account.
In a statement, attorneys Chris Stewart and Justin Miller, who represent Brooks’ surviving relatives, said the family had “no knowledge or information regarding suspected Rayshard Brooks gang affiliation.”
Civil rights activist and lawyer Gerald Griggs has participated in numerous protests during these weeks. Griggs said he did not view the armed group that held the barricades during his time there as anything other than “neighborhood citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
Police, meanwhile, were kept at bay by Bottoms, who told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in July 2020 that they wanted the area to be cleaned up weeks earlier, but were dissuaded by the councilor. Municipal Joyce Sheperd, who had negotiated with the protesters when the area was taken over. Sheperd declined to comment on Friday.
Last year, Bottoms and Sheperd said they did not see the gunmen after police removed the barricades on June 23. But armed gang members returned at one point. Turner’s family is suing the city for his death.
George Chidi, a freelance journalist who worked at AJC, was beaten by some of the gunmen while independently covering the protests last June. He said there was an organized hierarchy among those at the barricade, but he did not see them as a gang at the time.
Chidisaid this week’s revelations, however, raise new questions for city officials to answer. He said it would have been a significant break in leadership if city officials knew last year that gangs were operating in the area and were not doing enough to control them.
“Enormous resources are placed in the hands of the police to ensure a basic level of order in society,” said Chidi, who is black. “It completely collapsed over the course of several weeks.”
Willis at a press conference Thursday discussed the latest developments in the case and how it reflects the significant gang issue in the metro area. In another case earlier this year, she indicted 12 suspected Bloods members, including rapper YFN Lucci, in an indictment of 105 counts ranging from theft toaggravated assault and weapons violations.
The district attorney said she plans to indict Conley and McKinney, and possibly others, within the next two weeks.
“We have a gang problem in Fulton County and the metro area around it,” Willis said. “And this gang violence hurts people to include children. We take it very seriously… and we take a strong stand on it. “
– Editor Wilborn P. Nobles III contributed to this article.