Suspect in deadly Thanksgiving shooting surrenders

Jalen Leverette
Jalen Leverette

Credit: Clayton County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Clayton County Sheriff's Office

An Austell man wanted in a deadly Thanksgiving Day shooting in Forest Park is now behind bars.

Jalen Leverette, the primary suspect in the death of 20-year-old Jason Martin, turned himself in to authorities Monday night, according to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office. He was taken into custody at a location in Cobb County.

Leverette, 22, was quickly identified as a suspect after he was seen in a black sedan, authorities said. A similar vehicle was spotted driving away from the intersection of Lee Circle and Madison Street, where Forest Park police were called to investigate the shooting Thursday.

RELATED: Man dead, gunman sought after shooting in Forest Park

When officers arrived about 5 p.m., Martin had already been taken to Southern Regional Medical Center by a friend, Forest Park police Sgt. Kelly Flanigan said. He later died at the hospital.

Jason Martin
Jason Martin

Investigators believe Martin was shot over some kind of argument. According to the sheriff’s office, Martin was among a group of people playing basketball outside a home when Leverette pulled up in a black sedan.

Leverette exited the vehicle and allegedly brandished two firearms, calling out one of the basketball players, a sheriff's spokesman said in a public advisory. That man got into the car with Leverette, and authorities said the others in the group, including Martin, approached the car to try to diffuse the situation.

“Leverette then opened the door of the vehicle and began shooting at one of the individuals, striking him in the neck and chest,” the spokesman said.

The other man jumped out of the car farther down the road. Martin’s mother, who didn’t want to be identified, said he was never involved in the initial argument with Leverette and was just trying to intervene.

Leverette was arrested on charges of murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping. He was scheduled to appear in court for a first appearance hearing Tuesday morning, when his bond will be considered.

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The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office said deputies responded to a welfare check.

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