Another person who police believe was not connected to the deaths faces a weapon charge.
Police said 11-year-old Tatiyana Coates and her brother, 15-year-old Daveon Coates, were sleeping in a Clayton County home when they were shot to death by gang members who may have been after someone else: Deundre Mitchell, who they suspected of taking weapons from a DeKalb County apartment. Deundre Mitchell has been charged with murder in the case.
Roberts said it still is not clear whether the children were targeted.
“They likely thought Deundre was one of the children in the bed,” he said. “But (Tatiyana and Daveon) could not have known the harm that was coming their way.”
Four younger children were in the home at the time of the shooting. None was hurt.
Roberts said the Coates family sees the indictments as progress, adding that his department has been in constant contact with them over the past 18 months.
“There is some small piece of solace that they’ve received from the progress of the case so far,” he said.
All men charged are believed to be members of the Crips gang. They will be investigated to see whether they had roles in other gang-related crimes, Roberts said.
At least one of the suspects already has been tied to three homicides in surrounding counties.
Clayton County Police Department Detective Stefan Schindler said the case crossed state lines after a weapon dropped during a drive-by shooting in Chattanooga the day after the killings was linked to the homicides.
He declined to go into specific details, citing the continuing investigation.
Still unknown is what role the teacher, White, played in the crime.
Hired by DeKalb County School District in March 2017 as a paraprofessional and as a teacher ahead of the new school year, he passed two background checks, district officials said. Georgia Professional Standards Commission records show White received a clearance certificate, which shows he cleared a fingerprint and criminal background check. No other criminal charges against White were found during a cursory public records search.
He was arrested and led out of Decatur’s Toney Elementary School Friday in handcuffs. District officials have said White was removed from his position until the police investigation is complete.
“We were absolutely flabbergasted to come to the realization that we had a fifth-grade teacher in a public school teaching children, to be part of this,” Schindler said. “That took our breath away.”