More than a year after 8-year-old Secoriea Turner was shot and killed at a makeshift roadblock in southwest Atlanta, authorities have charged a second suspect in her murder.
Jerrion McKinney, 23, was arrested Wednesday by the GBI, authorities said.
The Loganville man is charged with murder, four counts of aggravated assault, pointing a gun or pistol at another and 12 gang-related offenses in the July 4, 2020, death of the rising Kipp Ways Academy third-grader.
Turner was killed when the Jeep she and her mother were riding in encountered an armed group near the burned-out Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks had been killed by an Atlanta police officer less than a month earlier, authorities said. The case stunned a city still reeling from Brooks’ death.
Atlanta investigators said as many as four people opened fire, but until Wednesday, just one person — Julian Conley — had been charged in the girl’s death.
“On June 11, 2021, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested that the GBI Gang Task Force conduct a gang investigation and secure additional arrest warrants as needed in Turner’s murder investigation,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said in an emailed statement. “Arrest warrants were secured for McKinney and Julian Jamal Conley who was already incarcerated.”
Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office
McKinney was arrested with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service and the Atlanta Police Department’s Fugitive Unit, Miles said. Authorities have not said how they linked McKinney to the Fourth of July shooting or if they’re searching for any additional suspects.
McKinney was arrested in late October and spent nearly eight months in the Fulton County Jail on another aggravated assault charge stemming from an incident that occurred the day Turner was killed, online jail records show. He was released June 17 on $45,000 bond.
The Atlanta Police Department had been handling Turner’s murder investigation and held multiple news conferences about the case last year. But an agency spokeswoman referred all questions about McKinney’s latest arrest to the GBI.
Attorney Mawuli Davis, who is representing Turner’s family, said they were made aware of the second arrest Wednesday.
“The family is grateful for the work that’s being done to find everyone that’s responsible for Secoriea’s death,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Secoriea loved going to school, Davis said, adding that her family is going through a difficult time as summer comes to an end and children return to the classroom.
“This is a time that Secoria loved,” he said. “At least they know there is active police work still being done to try to find the people responsible and make sure they’re held accountable for what they did in taking this precious life.”
In June, Turner’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, its mayor and other leaders they allege failed to protect their child’s life. The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County State Court, alleges city leaders were “negligent in their duties by failing to remove armed vigilantes who had gathered alongside peaceful protesters at the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed.”
Protesters upset by Brooks’ death had been camped out at the restaurant for weeks. Authorities said a group manning a makeshift barricade opened fire on the SUV after its driver tried to go around the boundary. Turner was struck in the back when eight bullets flew into the car.
She was rushed to the hospital, but the 8-year-old died in her mother’s arms, Turner’s family said.
“Charmaine Turner and a friend were literally on their way home, and as they were attempting to get home they were faced with a barricade in a City of Atlanta street,” Davis said after filing the lawsuit. “They were not able to get home that night safely.”
The burned-out Wendy’s where Brooks was killed was demolished by a wrecking crew 10 days after Turner was killed. During a meeting with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s editorial board in the days that followed, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she planned to shut down the site weeks before the fatal shooting.
At that time, the mayor said she was allowing Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd more time to negotiate with demonstrators at the site.
The complaint alleges that in allowing that action, Bottoms, Sheperd and police Chief Rodney Bryant failed to protect Atlanta’s residents and “directly and proximately led to Secoriea’s death, which was foreseeable and avoidable.”
Davis said Turner’s family is moving forward with the lawsuit, but hopes investigators can track down additional suspects involved in the child’s shooting, saying there’s still work to be done.
“The district attorney’s office is keeping the family abreast of the investigation and the prosecution, and the family just wants everyone that’s responsible to be held accountable,” he said.
Both McKinney and Conley remained held at the Fulton County Jail on Wednesday afternoon without bond.
— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.
STORY SO FAR
Secoriea Turner was shot July 4, 2020, near the now-demolished Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks had been killed by an Atlanta police officer less than a month earlier.
Less than two weeks later, Atlanta police arrested Julian Conley, who was 19 at the time. He was initially charged with murder and three counts of aggravated assault.
In June, Turner’s family filed a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant, City Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd and Wendy’s International. The lawsuit accuses city officials of “failing to remove armed vigilantes” who took over the area near the restaurant after Brooks’ death.
Days later, Fulton County DA Fani Willis asked the GBI to conduct a gang investigation and secure additional warrants in Turner’s death. Jerrion McKinney, 23, was arrested Wednesday.