Atlanta mayor blames recent nightclub shootings on governor’s handling of COVID-19

November 6, 2020 Atlanta: Atlanta police congregate behind crime scene tape after a fight outside a downtown Atlanta nightclub devolved into chaos Friday morning, Nov. 6, 2020 when someone started shooting and two off-duty police officers attempted to intervene. According to Atlanta police, two people were killed by the gunfire and several others were injured, including one person hit by a vehicle when the crowd scattered outside the Monaco Hookah Lounge on Trinity Avenue. The two officers, who were not injured, were in uniform working a security job at the club. Police have been called to investigate shootings at the Monaco twice in the past 24 hours. Two people were wounded there early Thursday, but investigators have no evidence that incident was related to Friday morningÕs deadly bout of gunfire, according to Atlanta police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek. It all started Friday shortly after 3 a.m. when an argument between two groups turned physical in the parking lot, Peek told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the scene. ÒThat physical altercation escalated into an exchange of gunfire with those groups,Ó Peek said. ÒTwo police officers who were working at that particular club, or lounge, noticed the altercation and engaged some of the people involved. There was an exchange of gunfire with police as well.Ó Two of the people injured by the gunfire were stable Friday morning, and one was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Peek said investigators believe the person hit by the vehicle was involved in the initial dispute. That person was expected to survive, he said. Bullets were flying in several directions across the scattered crime scene, Peek said, and police have not determined who fired the fatal shots. They have called in the GBI to investigate the incident as an officer-involved shooting. Peek called the scene Òpretty chaotic.Ó There could be additional shooting victims that have yet to turn up, the deputy chief said. ÒThe officers did shoot, but we want to ensure we look at the evidence and be able to prove who did what," he said. ÒThatÕs why we are dependent on the GBI.Ó It is the 82nd officer-involved shooting the GBI has been asked to investigate this year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that donÕt involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBIÕs tally.  (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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November 6, 2020 Atlanta: Atlanta police congregate behind crime scene tape after a fight outside a downtown Atlanta nightclub devolved into chaos Friday morning, Nov. 6, 2020 when someone started shooting and two off-duty police officers attempted to intervene. According to Atlanta police, two people were killed by the gunfire and several others were injured, including one person hit by a vehicle when the crowd scattered outside the Monaco Hookah Lounge on Trinity Avenue. The two officers, who were not injured, were in uniform working a security job at the club. Police have been called to investigate shootings at the Monaco twice in the past 24 hours. Two people were wounded there early Thursday, but investigators have no evidence that incident was related to Friday morningÕs deadly bout of gunfire, according to Atlanta police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek. It all started Friday shortly after 3 a.m. when an argument between two groups turned physical in the parking lot, Peek told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the scene. ÒThat physical altercation escalated into an exchange of gunfire with those groups,Ó Peek said. ÒTwo police officers who were working at that particular club, or lounge, noticed the altercation and engaged some of the people involved. There was an exchange of gunfire with police as well.Ó Two of the people injured by the gunfire were stable Friday morning, and one was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Peek said investigators believe the person hit by the vehicle was involved in the initial dispute. That person was expected to survive, he said. Bullets were flying in several directions across the scattered crime scene, Peek said, and police have not determined who fired the fatal shots. They have called in the GBI to investigate the incident as an officer-involved shooting. Peek called the scene Òpretty chaotic.Ó There could be additional shooting victims that have yet to turn up, the deputy chief said. ÒThe officers did shoot, but we want to ensure we look at the evidence and be able to prove who did what," he said. ÒThatÕs why we are dependent on the GBI.Ó It is the 82nd officer-involved shooting the GBI has been asked to investigate this year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that donÕt involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBIÕs tally. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Update: A spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued the following statement at 7:17 p.m. on Wednesday: “The Mayor and the Governor have disagreements on policies related to COVID-19 — this is nothing new. At no point did the Mayor place blame at the feet of any individual elected official for the tragic shooting in question.

The Mayor is consistent in her desire for uniform policies to combat COVID-19 — or at the very least, the opportunity for local control so that municipalities can tailor policies specific to their own communities.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday blamed a number of recent shootings at the city’s nightclubs on Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen restaurants, bars and nightclubs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a virtual press briefing with local media, Bottoms said people from other states whose leaders had shut down indoor service at their restaurants and bars because of a resurgence in COVID cases or had yet to reopen them were traveling to Atlanta to party.

“We’re open as if we are not in the midst of a pandemic,” Bottoms said. “There’s not a lot that we can do about that locally because obviously the governor has made the decision to keep the state open.”

A Kemp spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a voice message seeking comment.

As an example, Bottoms pointed to the shooting death of Chicago rapper King Von who had traveled to Atlanta to host his “Welcome to O’Block” album release party at Monaco Hookah Lounge on Trinity Avenue in downtown Atlanta.

A second man, 34-year-old Mark Blakely of Chicago, was also killed in the shootout outside the club on Nov. 6.

King Von’s album reached number five on the Billboard 200 after his death.

Last month, Illinois shutdown indoor service at its bars and restaurants, after seeing a major resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

On Tuesday, the State of Georgia saw its number of new COVID cases spike to roughly 3,500. Over the previous week, the number of daily new cases varied between about 1,000 and 2,500, according to figures from the Atlanta Fulton County Emergency Management Agency.