2 men killed during another deadly night in Atlanta

Two men were killed Tuesday during another violent night in Atlanta in what has been the deadliest year for the city in nearly two decades.

The deaths happened on opposite ends of the city, in northeast Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood and on the southwest outskirts of town. They bring Atlanta’s homicide count to 138, the most since 148 killings in 2003.

Little is known about either death. The first was reported about 1 a.m. at the Life at Marketplace Apartments on Fairburn Road. The complex is in a mostly residential area wedged between Piedmont Driving Club’s golf course to the north and the busy Camp Creek Marketplace to the east.

Responding officers found the victim unresponsive on the ground with a gunshot wound to his chest, according to Atlanta police. He was pronounced dead at the scene and later identified by police as Marcus Edwards, 26.

The circumstances surrounding his death were unclear Tuesday, police spokesman Officer Steve Avery said.

The next call about a deadly shooting came in about 1:45 a.m. Officers responded to a home in the 200 block of Rocky Ford Road in Kirkwood after a man, identified as 24-year-old Artravion Wainwright, was discovered shot inside.

He was found with multiple gunshot wounds, Avery said. Wainwright was taken to a hospital but later died.

Like the southwest Atlanta incident, the circumstances surrounding his death are still under investigation. No suspects have been identified.

The killings are the latest in a stretch of violent incidents in the city. On Monday, a man was shot in the head and killed at the Barclay Hotel downtown. Two nights before, about 300 teens were gathered near an Atlantic Station bowling alley, and many were engaged in fights before being dispersed by police.

The massive brawl was captured on video. One 15-year-old, who police have accused as the “primary aggressor,” was detained on a charge of aggravated assault.

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When asked about the fight, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms compared the increase in violence in Atlanta to that in other major cities.

“While overall crime is down across the city, unfortunately, like several other major cities across the nation, Atlanta is experiencing an uptick in violent crime,” a spokesman for the mayor said Monday. “Keeping our residents and visitors safe continues to be our number one priority, and we are working with the Atlanta Police Department and businesses to further reduce crime in our city.”

New data released Tuesday by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice shows Atlanta is not alone. Homicide rates are on the rise in 20 other U.S. cities, including large metropolises like Los Angeles and Chicago and those whose populations compare to Atlanta, like Sacramento and Raleigh. The commission, which was launched in July by the Council on Criminal Justice, aims to make policy recommendations based on its work.

The study found that homicides, aggravated assaults and gun assaults rose sharply in late May and June, well after the start of the pandemic, and remain elevated over 2019 levels. While crime rates have fallen from their summertime peaks, research shows homicide rates have increased 34% in September and October compared to the same two-month period last year.

According to Richard Rosenfeld, a professor emeritus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis who helmed the study, there is not a direct correlation between the pandemic and the recent spikes in crime. Still, he said, effectively countering the pandemic remains an urgent priority in crime reduction.

“City leaders face serious challenges posed by the recent rise in violent crime,” he said in a news release. “In our view, subduing the pandemic, pursuing crime-control strategies of proven effectiveness, and enacting needed police reforms will all be necessary to achieve durable reductions in violent crime in our cities.”

— Data specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this article.