After three carjackings in a week within a mile of each other, Atlanta police said Wednesday more officers will be patrolling the Morehouse College area. Concerned by the use of guns in the crimes, SWAT and undercover officers will be bought in to help, a police sergeant said.
“To see three of these in less than a week is very concerning to us,” Sgt. John Chafee said. “This is something that’s important to us. It’s a priority to us. We’re going to get these guys.”
Carjackings in the city are down this year compared to 2017, Chafee said. But the latest crimes have officers on alert because in all three cases the carjackers had guns, and two of the victims were college students.
No injuries were reported in the recent cases, but Chafee said, “Any time we see an armed robbery, there’s certainly a concern there that they may use that weapon.”
The latest string of carjackings are nothing new for Atlanta police. Less than five months ago, four carjackings in the Midtown area were all believed related, a deputy chief previously said. The May crimes remain under investigation, though it’s not believed they are linked to recent crimes near Morehouse.
Two Morehouse students and a Lyft driver are the victims of the latest carjackings, according to police. Stolen vehicles in two of the cases were later found, but a third car had not been found Wednesday afternoon, hours after the latest crime. The recent carjackings have all happened in the early-morning hours, between 2:30 a.m. and 4 a.m., police said.
Around 4 a.m. on Sept. 27, four men in a Toyota pickup truck approached a 19-year-old on Westview Drive, according to police. Two of the men, both with guns, approached the student and demanded his van, which was later found abandoned.
Justin Clark said he’d had a late night studying in the college library and grabbed fast food before heading to his apartment. That’s when he was approached by the carjackers, according to police. Clark, a New Orleans resident, had planned to drive his van home for a relative’s funeral when it was stolen. A reader of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution later donated a plane ticket for Clark.
The second carjacking happened Tuesday around 4 a.m. Deaven Rector, 19, a political science major at Morehouse, left the library and drive to his Founders Drive apartment, where he was held at gunpoint in the parking deck, he told police.
“As I rolled down the window, I told him, ‘I’m a college student, would you please not do this?’” he told The AJC. “It’s the last thing I need. I can barely afford the rent at the end of the month, the last thing I need is to have my car stolen, especially when I’m 3,000 miles away from home.”
Rector got out of his car the suspect demanded his cellphone password, which Rector gave him. He later called 911 and, while waiting for police to arrive, tracked the location of his iPhone through an app, and investigators were able to recover his car.
In the latest incident, a Lyft driver’s car was stolen at gunpoint around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to police. The Lyft driver, Imani Dawson, told police he had parked along Cunningham Place and stepped out of his car to smoke a cigarette about 2:30 a.m. when a maroon or burgundy sedan pulled up beside him and three men got out. The three suspects then left in Dawson’s car and a fourth man drove away in the sedan, according to police.
All three victims in the recent carjackings described some consistencies between the crimes, including a suspect with dreadlocks, according to police.
“There are some similarities with each case,” Chafee said. “It’s not enough to confirm at this point that they’re all related.”
Investigators are looking for any surveillance cameras in the area, along with seeking information from anyone who may have information regarding the latest incidents. Also, anyone in the area who sees anything suspicious is asked to call 911.