Police caught off guard by huge park gathering where 2 women were shot

DeKalb County Police say they were caught off-guard Sunday by the unsanctioned party at a public park that ended with two women being shot.

“This came really as a surprise to us,” the county’s public safety chief Cedric Alexander told reporters on Monday.

But Alexander vowed that they would be prepared in the future.

“We’re going to monitor social media going forward so that we can try to get ahead of them as quickly as we can and intervene,” he said.

Two women were shot Sunday evening as DeKalb County police broke up about 1,500 youth at the Wade Walker Park party near Stone Mountain.

“There was underage drinking and some drug use there,” he said. “Often when we have things like this, things go awry.”

Party organizers did not get the required permits to have a DJ and serve alcohol at the the event, authorities said.

Social media, which announced the party with the hashtag “BigAssCookOut” noted that the event was to start at 4:20 p.m., a popular reference for marijuana users (Sunday was April 20, or 4/20) and was prevalent throughout the week leading up to Sunday.

The rapid spread of news about a party, and rabid response to social media news feeds is nothing new, particularly among youth.

What was said to have been planned as an intimate Douglas County house party on the night of Nov. 6, 2010, ballooned — after social media alerts — into a raucous street gathering where 18-year-old Bobby Tillman was stomped to death by four other young men.

And crowds visiting Atlanta for the so-called Freaknik exploded reportedly to upwards of 250,000 in the mid-1990s after a low-tech social media — word-of-mouth — spread.

In DeKalb on Sunday, an officer on patrol saw the throng just after 5 p.m. on Sunday and radioed for assistance, Alexander said.

The shooting happened at 7:45 p.m., more than two hours after an entire precinct of officers and then some began corralling young partygoers out of the park.

DeKalb police Capt. Stephen Fore said Chardonae Meeks and Maya Scott, both 19, sustained graze wounds to the head that were not life-threatening, and were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

Both women have been released, police said Monday.

Alexander said the shooting appears to be the result of spill-over from an earlier altercation.

“Some unknown assailant or assailants approached the vehicle (the women were in) and fired into the car,” he said.

No arrests have been made in the shooting, but investigators have a vague description that they are following, police said.

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